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Israel confirms investigation into Jordan embassy shooting

Un Jordanien a été tué et un Israélien blessé lors d'un "incident" survenu dimanche à l'ambassade d'Israël à Amman, a indiqué à l'AFP une source des services de sécurité jordaniens
RAMZI HAIDAR (AFP/Archives)
Protests come after two Jordanian citizens were killed by an Israeli security guard

Israel on Friday confirmed it is conducted an investigation into the shooting of two men at the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Sunday, confirming media reports that the police had already questioned the security guard at the center of the diplomatic crisis.

On Thursday, the embattled Israeli security guard at the center of the crisis told police that the Jordanian teen who attempted to stab him with a screwdriver at Israel's embassy in Amman on Sunday was nationalistically motivated, local media reported.

Jordan's King Abdullah indicated earlier in the day that his country's fraying diplomatic relations with Israel hinged on a trial for the embassy guard, who killed both the attacker, Zakaria al-Jawadah, and an innocent bystander, Bashar Hamarneh.

On Friday Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the incident was being investigated "in accordance with the usual legal procedures in such cases," and "as part of the relations between Israel and Jordan, Israel will update Jordan on the developments and findings of the process."

Highlighting the sensitivity of the issue in Jordan, hundreds of protesters marched in Amman on Friday, attempting to surround the Israeli embassy.

The angry crowd called on the government to shut the embassy down, expel the ambassador and cancel the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Emerging from a mosque hundreds of metres (yards) away from the embassy, the protesters chanted "Death to Israel" and "No Zionist embassy on Jordanian soil", an AFP correspondent said. 

At around the same time, King Abdullah paid a condolence visit to the family of the bystander, Bashar Hamarneh, a doctor and the landlord of the property in whcih the Israeli security official resided. 

According to reports on Israel's Channel Ten and Ynet, the guard, known only as Ziv, told police on Thursday night that the Jordanian teen questioned him about his nationality and upon discovering he is Israeli, drew a screwdriver and began trying to stab him in the neck.

Ziv also reportedly claimed that the shooting was a "last resort."

The guard's version of events differs from other accounts that suggested the stabbing was motivated by a row over the late delivery of furniture.

Haim Tzach/GPO

King Abdullah II personally attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and urged him to "take responsibility and take legal steps including the trial of the killer," a royal court statement reported him as saying.

The king called on the Israeli premier to "implement justice instead of dealing with this crime in the manner of a political show for personal political gains."

The guard was welcomed home and greeted as a hero by Netanyahu, who embraced him and said: "You acted well, calmly and we also had an obligation to get you out."

Jordan will not allow the return of Israel's ambassador until the shooting has been properly investigated, a government official said earlier on Friday.

"Jordan will not allow ambassador Einat Shlein or the rest of the embassy staff to return until a thorough investigation has been opened" into Sunday's shooting, the official said.

Israel maintained the guard had diplomatic immunity.

Jordan's public prosecutor Akram Musaid charged on Thursday that the guard was responsible for the killings and possession of a firearm without a licence.

Tensions in the region have been high over the past two weeks after Israel introduced new security measures at the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. The last of them were removed on Thursday.

Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

It is also one of only two Arab governments that have signed a peace treaty with Israel and established full diplomatic relations.

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