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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Israel's Shin Bet investigating embassy guard shootings in Jordan

Domestic intelligence agency ordered to look into killing of two Jordanians after pressure from Amman  

Crowds attend the funeral of Mohammad Al Jawawdeh in Amman, Jordan on July 25, 2017, two days after he was fatally shot along with another Jordanian by a guard of the Israeli embassy. Muhammad Hamed / Reuters
Crowds attend the funeral of Mohammad Al Jawawdeh in Amman, Jordan on July 25, 2017, two days after he was fatally shot along with another Jordanian by a guard of the Israeli embassy. Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the Israel's internal security service to investigate the shooting of two Jordanians last week that sparked a diplomatic crisis between Jordan and Israel.

The move comes after Jordan's insistence that Israel prosecute the security guard who killed a teenager and the landlord at a residential building in Amman leased to the Israeli embassy.

Israel has promised Jordan it will conduct a comprehensive and transparent investigation into the incident and pass on the findings to Amman, according to the Tel Aviv-based newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

Israeli attorney general Avichai Mandelblit and state prosecutor Shai Nitzan are supervising the investigation by the Shin Bet and monitoring its sensitive political aspects, the paper reported on Sunday.

It said an initial Israeli investigation found that the security guard — identified only as "Ziv" — was justified in shooting the teenager after he tried to stab him with a screwdriver, while the Jordanian landlord trying to stop the stabber when he was hit by shrapnel and killed.

On Friday, the Jordanian ministry of foreign affairs handed Israel the findings of a public prosecution investigation into the incident, and asked for the guard to be prosecuted in Israel in line with article 31 of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

Jordan also charged him in absentia with two counts of murder and for possessing an unlicensed weapon.

A Jordanian government official has said the Israeli ambassador and embassy staff would not be allowed back into the country unless Israel took legal action in the case.

So far 60 out of 195 members of Jordan's parliament have signed a petition demanding that the government expel the Israeli ambassador and withdraw its ambassador from Israel, said Nabil Ghishan, an MP.

“We already have an impression that there will be no legal measures or penalties against the killer because of the welcome he received from Netanyahu,” Mr Ghishan said.

Mr Netanyahu's embrace of the guard after he and the rest of the embassy staff returned to Israel added to Jordanian anger over the shooting on July 23, when tensions were already running high over new Israeli security measures at Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, of which Jordan is the custodian.

It also drew a strong public response from Jordan's King Abdullah, who criticised Mr Netanyahu on Thursday and demanded that the guard face justice.

In a meeting with reporters, columnists and editors on Saturday, the king stressed that Jordan would not give up the rights of Jordanians and would make every effort to ensure that justice was done.

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