King Abdullah demands Israel put embassy guard on trial

Kingdom seeks to question guard who has returned to Israel after dispute that left two Jordanian citizens dead.

Israel embassy in Jordan
The security incident at the Israeli embassy in Amman occurred on Sunday [Khalil Mazraawi/AFP]

Jordan’s King Abdullah has asked Benjamin Netanyahu to put an Israeli embassy guard who on Sunday shot and killed two Jordanian citizens, on trial.

Jordan wants to question the guard, but he has since returned to Israel, welcomed with an embrace by the Israeli prime minister.

Jordan’s public prosecutor’s initial investigation has found the Israeli guard responsible for the killings and of possession of a firearm without a licence.

Israel brought the guard home under diplomatic immunity on Monday.

On Thursday in his first public comments on the case, King Abdullah criticised Netanyahu for embracing the guard, calling it provocative and destabilising.

There are different versions of how the Jordanians were killed.

Conflicting versions

The Israeli foreign ministry says the guard was stabbed by 17-year-old Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, who was at an embassy residence delivering furniture.

The official Jordanian government version of events is similar: It says Jawawdeh attacked the Israeli guard, who shot and killed him and the landlord of the residence, Bashar Hamarneh.

The guard’s version of events, as communicated by the Israelis, suggested that he was defending himself when Jawawdeh attempted to stab him with a screwdriver in an argument over a late delivery of furniture.

Initially, the Jordanian government gave conflicting statements about the incident, describing it at one time as a “crime” against Jordanian citizens and then supported the Israeli version of events by saying that the embassy guard had acted in “self-defence”.

Ghaleb al-Zuabi, Jordan’s interior minister, had said the “dead [man] had attacked the Israeli guard with a screwdriver who shot him in self-defence”.

Mohamad al Hejouj, a former member of parliament who is related to the Jawawdeh clan, told Al Jazeera he was informed by government security officials that Jawawdeh might have “attacked” the security guard.

However, Jawawdeh’s family rejects the claim that he attacked the guard.

Columnist and retired army general Mussa al-Adwan wrote: “The murder of Jordanians is not only humiliating the government but also the entire people of Jordan.”

Adwan also questioned the credibility of statements made by Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi on CNN in which he said that the government would guarantee a fair trial to bring justice to the families of the victims.

Anis al-Khasawneh, another columnist, chided the government for being “subservient to Israeli arrogance and crimes when it comes to Jordanian citizens”. Al-Khasawneh added: “The Jordanian government cheapens Jordanian blood, and gives its relations with the Zionist entity a priority over the dignity of its citizens”

‘Killed in cold blood’

Denying that the Jawawdeh family was knowingly doing business with the Israeli embassy in Amman, a family member told Al Jazeera: “Our family would never deal with the Zionist occupiers; they killed our son in cold blood on Jordanian soil.”

Jawawdeh’s father, Zakariya, told AFP news agency that he wanted “the truth”, urging authorities to view CCTV footage from security cameras at the embassy.

“My son has no interest in politics. He does not follow any extremist ideology,” he said.

“I want to know how the investigation is going and know what happened, and what led to the killing of my son.”

The Jawawdeh family has hired a lawyer to follow up the case with the Jordanian government.

Family members said officials from the Jordanian government, including the prime minister and officers from the General Intelligence Department, have visited the family to pay their respects.

The missing witness

Adding to the confusion and conflicting accounts has been the disappearance of a key witness who was present at the apartment where the shooting took place.

Maher Faris Ibrahimi, the truck driver who delivered furniture to the apartment, witnessed the shooting, according to his family.

After the shooting, Ibrahimi was questioned by the Jordanian police and remained in custody until he was released on Wednesday.

Ibrahimi’s family members told Al Jazeera that he was told by the police not to stay at his house, to shut off his mobile phone and not talk to anyone about the incident.

Ibrahimi is now staying with other family members in other parts of Amman, his wife said.

Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, but the Jordanian public largely views Israel negatively, especially in light of its continued occupation of Palestinian lands and its treatment of Palestinians under its control.

Ali Younes contributed to this report. Follow him on Twitter @ali_reports

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies