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Israeli embassy security guard shoots, kills 2 Jordanians in Amman

July 23, 2017 9:38 P.M. (Updated: July 24, 2017 4:02 P.M.)
Jordanian security forces blocking off roads leading to the Israeli embassy in Amman on July 23, 2017.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- An Israeli embassy security guard shot and killed two Jordanians in Amman under unclear circumstances on Sunday night, with Jordanian media describing the incident as a personal dispute and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying the Israeli guard was defending himself from a politically motivated attack.

According to reports, two Jordanian carpenters had arrived to an apartment in the residential complex used by the Israeli embassy to replace furniture.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement that one of the workers crept up behind the guard and began stabbing him with a screwdriver. The guard then opened fire, killing the alleged attacker and inadvertently shooting the Jordanian owner of the building who was present at the scene, who later succumbed to his wounds.

A third Jordanian worker present at the scene was released Monday morning, according to the statement, after an overnight media ban by Israeli authorities was lifted on Monday morning.

The ministry’s statement said the Israeli guard was lightly injured in the incident, without elaborating on the nature of his injuries. Israeli news outlet Haaretz said he was injured when jumping back away from the Jordanian as he his cocked his weapon.

The slain alleged assailant was identified as 17-year-old Muhammad Zakariya al-Jawawdeh, reportedly of Palestinian origin, who died after being shot twice. He had previously done maintenance work in the Israeli embassy and its residential compound.

The Jordanian General Security Administration issued a statement, reportedly saying the circumstances surrounding the incident were still being investigated, and did not mention that a Jordanian carpenter had attacked an Israeli.

Later Sunday night, dozens of al-Jawawdeh’s family members gathered in al-Sharq al-Awsat square in Amman to protest his death, demanding that the Jordanian government release all details of the investigation and punish the shooter.

One relative told news cameras from private Jordanian outlet Ammon News that the boy had gone to the apartment to collect money in return for a bedroom set purchased by the Israeli guard, claiming that al-Jawawdeh did not realize the customer was armed or a Jewish Israeli.

“He was a student on summer holiday. The boy went with the young guys to collect the money, and a heated argument broke out between him another young man there. We didn’t know they were armed, nor did we know they were Jews. If we knew they were Jews, we would have considered it dishonor that they visit our stores,” the man said.

“What has happened is that our son had heated argument with the man. Regardless of whether he slapped you or you boxed him, how dare you in cold-blood cock your handgun and shoot the boy as if he was a cockroach?”

The father also said in an interview with Jordanian television station Roya TV that his son did not know the nationality of the man who killed him and that he was a regular customer who bought furniture from them.

However, Israeli authorities have been treating the incident as a possible attack in retaliation to rising tensions in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel imposed new security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, seen as the latest instance of Israeli authorities using Israeli-Palestinian violence as a means of furthering control over important sites in the occupied Palestinian territory and normalizing repressive measures against Palestinians.

Three Palestinians were killed by Israelis on Friday during demonstrations against the new Al-Aqsa restrictions that were violently repressed by Israeli forces, as mass protests were also staged in Amman in solidarity with Palestinians and Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Eynat Schlein, Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, and with the Israeli security official in the wake of the shooting.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was working with the Jordanian government over various channels, and that discussions in the Israeli cabinet over the case, as well as the Al-Aqsa crisis, were ongoing Monday.

As Israel is refusing to allow Jordanian authorities to question the hurt Israeli security guard, citing his immunity under the Vienna Convention, all security personnel and diplomatic employees have been confined to the embassy compound, according to reports.

The Israelis decided to immediately evacuate all the staff of the Israeli embassy in Amman for fear that the incident would lead to riots and attempts to attack the embassy, Haaretz reported, but Jordanian authorities were refusing to allow the security guard to leave the country and have demanded an investigation.
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