Monday, March 13, 2017


The Jordanian soldier who shot dead seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 is freed from prison despite fury of victims' families

By AFP and Chris Summers | Daily Mail | March 12, 2017

A Jordanian soldier who shot dead seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 was released from prison today, sparking outrage from the families of those he killed.

In March 1997 Ahmad Dakamseh fired an automatic weapon at the girls, who were ironically on a trip to the Island of Peace, a man-made park on the Jordanian border.

Sivan Fatihi, Natali Alkalai, Adi Malka, Ya'ala Me'iri, and Nirit Cohen, who were all 13, and Karen Cohen and Shiri Badayev, who were both 14, were killed and five others were wounded, as well as a teacher.

Dakamseh showed no remorse during interviews with Jordanian media. He said his opinion of Israelis had not changed and he added: 'As for my position on the Zionists, you all know...what I did 20 years ago.'

Hezi Cohen, who lost his daughter Nirit, said today: 'This morning takes us back 20 years, to that horrible day.'

He said: 'I'd like to tell the (Israeli) prime minister and defence minister "Our children's blood should not be worthless". You should have acted vis-a-vis Jordan to prevent this release at any cost.'

Dakamseh was sentenced to life imprisonment, which in Jordan is 20 years.

His cousin Mohammed Yahya Dakamseh said: 'He is now a free man after he finished his jail term'.

Dakamseh, who is now 46, was released from the Bab al-Hawa prison in Irbid, 60 miles north of the capital, Amman.

He had been sentenced to life imprisonment, which in Jordan is 20 years.

Dakamseh, who has three children of his own, told his trial he fired his weapon at the girls after they mocked him while he was praying.

He was diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder.

Jordan's then ruler King Hussein condemned the attack and later travelled to Israel to offer his condolences to the families of the murdered schoolgirls. His government also paid compensation.

Orit Cohen, whose sister Keren was killed, said: 'Who says that tomorrow he won't carry out another attack and murder more Israelis?'

The attack came less than three years after Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty.

Dakamseh was taking back to his home village of Ebder in a convoy of dozens of cars whose drivers were honking their horns, a video shared on social media showed.

Dakamseh's brother Bassem said the family home was full of well-wishers and added: 'He is in good health, wearing a black suit among his relatives and close family including his 78-year-old mother.'

Israel Fatihi, whose daughter Sivan was killed in the attack, said 'He was called a hero in the Jordanian parliament at the time of the murder.

'If that's what they said in parliament, what can we expect from the family?'

He said Israel's peace with Jordan was between Israelis and the royal family, not the people or the parliament.

After the 1997 killings, Jordanian police said they prevented 100 people including two Islamist members of parliament from paying a solidarity visit to Dakamseh's family.

But 21 other lawmakers in a statement condemned the massacre, saying the holy war mentioned in the Koran did not authorise the killing of children.

Dakamseh, who suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes, was hospitalised in 2014 after he went on a five-day hunger strike to demand his release.

His strike followed Jordanian lawmakers demanding his release after Israeli soldiers killed a Jordanian judge in a scuffle at the Allenby Bridge border crossing with the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Jordan in 2011 had to distance itself from a newly appointed minister's remarks that Dakamseh was a 'hero' after Israel summoned Jordan's ambassador.

Then justice minister Hussein Mujalli, who had also been Dakamseh's lawyer, said he was a 'hero' and did not deserve prison.

Jordan is the only Arab nation besides Egypt to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state.

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