Argentina Delivers Thousands of WWII-era Documents to Israel

The digital documents the Argentine president presented to Prime Minister Netanyahu include letters, telegrams and reports from between 1939 and 1950

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks next to Argentine President Mauricio Macri during a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 12, 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks next to Argentine President Mauricio Macri during a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 12, 2017.Credit: Erica Canepa/Bloomberg

Argentina on Tuesday gave Israel thousands of World War II era documents during a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he says marks "a new dawn" in his country's relationship with Latin America.

The digital documents delivered by President Mauricio Macri include nearly 140,000 secret files and photographs from 1939-1950. They include letters, telegrams and reports that were digitized by Argentina and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

"We have delivered these digitalized historical documents about the Holocaust so that the state of Israel can make sure that they are investigated," Macri told Netanyahu after giving him a box containing five hard drives.

Argentina remained neutral during the war but later became a refuge for fleeing Nazi criminals, including some of the most notorious. Today, it has Latin America's largest Jewish community and of the world's biggest.

Netanyahu arrived Monday in Buenos Aires for the first visit by an Israeli leader to the region since Israel's creation in 1948. He is also scheduled to visit Colombia and Mexico before going to New York, where he will address the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 26.

"It's incredible that in 70 years of Israel, no prime minister visited any country in the Western Hemisphere south than the United States," Netanyahu said. "We are beginning here the dawn of a new era and not accidentally we begin it here in Argentina."

Netanyahu also praised Macri's "commitment" to solve two terror attacks against the Jewish community in Argentina.

"We know, without a doubt, that Iran and Hezbollah were backing up and in fact initiating these attacks," Netanyahu said.

Israel and Argentina have long accused Iran of being behind 1990s bombings in Buenos Aires that killed 29 people at the Israeli Embassy and 85 people at a Jewish community center. Iran has denied any role in the attacks.

The leading prosecutor investigating the attack on the AMIA community center was found dead in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head on Jan. 18, 2015.

Alberto Nisman had been scheduled to appear in Congress the next day to present allegations that then President Cristina Fernandez orchestrated a secret deal to cover up Iranian officials' alleged role in the attack. Fernandez denied the allegations and judges threw out the case.

Conspiracy theories have flourished around the mysterious death. While some people believe Nisman killed himself because he felt his claims against the former president lacked proof, others say he was murdered because he was a threat to the Argentine and Iranian governments.

Macri, who has met with Nisman's family, says resolving the death of the prosecutor and the bombings remain among his government's top priorities.

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