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Jordan demands Israel turn over embassy guard over deadly shooting incident

July 24, 2017 5:37 P.M. (Updated: July 24, 2017 10:16 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Jordanian government has reportedly issued a judicial order banning the Israeli security guard who was involved in a deadly shooting at the Israeli embassy in Jordan on Saturday night from leaving Jordan.

Government sources told Ma’an that Jordan was demanding that Israeli authorities hand over the guard, who shot and killed two Jordanian carpenters in unclear circumstances, to Jordanian authorities for interrogation and legal procedures.

Sources stressed that Jordan will “escalate diplomatic steps” if the guard was not turned in to Jordanian authorities.

Israel has been refusing to allow Jordanian authorities to question the injured Israeli security guard, citing his immunity under the Vienna Convention, while all security personnel and diplomatic employees were confined to the embassy compound, according to reports.

On Sunday, Haaretz reported that Israel had decided to immediately evacuate all Amman embassy staff, fearing that the incident would lead to riots and attempts to attack the embassy.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter that he had spoken twice with Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Eynat Schlein overnight Sunday, and with the security guard.

“I gained the impression that she (Schlein) is managing matters there very well. I assured the security guard that we will bring him back to Israel,” Netanyahu said, adding that “I told them that we are holding ongoing contacts with security and government officials in Amman on all levels, to bring the incident to a close as soon as possible.”

According to Netanyahu, the Jordanian ambassador to Israel went to the Israeli Foreign Ministry on Monday morning and was asked to assist in the matter.

“We are also holding contacts on various other channels with one objective -- to bring the incident to a close and bring our people to Israel.”

The conflicting messages from Jordanian and Israeli authorities on Monday were reflective of the uncertainty surround the deadly incident on Saturday night.

While Jordanian media has maintained that the incident was a personal dispute, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Israeli guard was defending himself from a politically motivated attack.

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 and later succumbed to his wounds.

Though Israeli authorities have been treating the incident as a possible attack in retaliation to rising tensions in occupied East Jerusalem, family members of 17-year-old Muhammad Zakariya al-Jawawdeh -- one of the Jordanians who was killed -- claimed that the boy did not even know the security guard was Israeli, and that the guard had been a customer of the family’s furniture store for a while.
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