Israel, Jordan Trade Barbs Over Death of Jordanian Who Stabbed Jerusalem Cop

Death of 57-year-old Mohammed Skaji is a 'crime,' Jordanian minister says, while failing to mention the stabbing itself; Netanyahu's bureau calls the statement 'outrageous'

Israeli police block a road following the attack in the Old City of Jerusalem, May 13, 2017
Israeli police block a road following the attack in the Old City of Jerusalem, May 13, 2017 AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

The death of a Jordanian tourist, who was shot dead after stabbing an Israeli cop in Jerusalem, has provoked a war of words between Israel and Jordan on Saturday.

Mohammed Skaji, 57, was shot dead by the officer after attacking him with a knife. Making no mention of the stabbing, Jordanian Minister for Media Affairs Mohammed Momani issued a statement calling Skaji's death a "crime" and saying that as Israel is the occupying force in Jerusalem, it is responsible for it. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau called the Jordanian minister's statement "outrageous," saying it amounted to an expression of support for a terrorist attack.

"The security footage clearly shows a Jordanian tourist stabbing an Israeli police officer with a knife," the bureau's statement said. "It's time for Jordan to stop this double game. Just like Israel condemns terrorist attacks in Jordan, Jordan must condemn terrorist attacks in Israel. Terror is terror." 

According to Israel Police, Skaji stabbed a police officer in his late 30s Saturday afternoon in Jerusalem’s Old City near the Lions' Gate. The officer, who was moderately wounded, managed to hold off Skaji and shoot him. 

A second man at the scene was lightly wounded in his arm.

The police stated that Skaji had arrived as part of a tour group. Police are investigating whether the attack may have been driven by a personal grievance or a mental issue.

Police also detained the owner of a stand near the scene. The stand owner, a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, allegedly saw the attack and tried to prevent another bystander from coming to the policeman’s aid.

Police also raided the hotel where Skaji had been staying and detained one of the trip organizers, Palestinian sources said.