Published: Mon, March 13, 2017
Culture | By Ray Hoffman

Jordan releases soldier who killed 7 Israeli girls

Jordan releases soldier who killed 7 Israeli girls

Daqamseh became a hero to many Jordanians and was embraced as a figurehead by a strong opposition movement led by Islamists and nationalists vehemently opposed to the country's peace treaty with Israel.

A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls while they were on a school trip to Jordan in 1997 was released on Sunday after serving 20 years in prison, a relative told AFP.

During the trial, Daqamseh said the girls had mocked him while he was performing Muslim prayers in a border area returned to Jordanian sovereignty under the 1994 peace treaty. Seven girls were murdered in the attack and six were injured.

Because the tribunal found Daqamseh mentally unstable, he was given a life sentence instead of the death penalty.

Jordan's Roya television channel broadcast footage of him held aloft by a crowd in his home town of Irbid in northern Jordan, next to a poster describing him as a "hero".

Yisrael Fatihi, whose 13-year-old daughter Sivan was killed in the attack, told Israel Radio on Sunday that he had been informed by the Israeli embassy in Jordan last week that Daqamseh's release was imminent.

Nurit, his wife, told AP news agency: "Despite the murder we are for peace". She said she misses "her laughter, her smile, her joy of life". "Why do we punish a soldier", a shopkeeper said.

A few days after the incident, the late King Hussein personally apologised for the incident, travelling to Israel to visit and pay his respects to the girls' families.

Israel's government summoned the Jordanian Ambassador in 2011 after the King's justice department considered letting Daqamseh released earlier than 20 years. "Don't believe the lie of the two-state solution; Palestine united is from the ocean to the river ... there is no state called 'Israel", he told Jordanian media in an interview after his release.

Fatihi remembered how Hussein knelt down next to the family when he came to visit them.

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