Murderer of Seven Israeli Schoolgirls Released by Jordan, Shows No Remorse for Killings

Ahmed Daqamseh, who killed the girls from Beit Shemesh as a soldier was freed from prison after serving a 20-year term.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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King Hussein of Jordan consoling the Badayev family of Bet Shemesh whose daughter was killed by a Jordanian soldier who shot at her class trip to Naharayim, 1997.
King Hussein of Jordan consoling the Badayev family of Bet Shemesh whose daughter was killed by a Jordanian soldier who shot at her class trip to Naharayim, 1997.Credit: Ohayon Avi / GPO
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Jordan has released from prison the murderer of seven Israeli schoolgirls in a 1997 attack at a border site called the "Island of Peace" at Naharayim.

Relatives said Ahmad Daqamseh was back at his home in the village of Idivir in northern Jordan.

A Jordanian military spokesman, Amer Sartawi, said Daqamseh was released early Sunday, after serving 20 years in prison.

Daqamseh, who was a soldier when he perpetrated the attack, had been sentenced by a five-member military tribunal for the fatal March 13, 1997 shootings of pupils from a Beit Shemesh school.

He killed seven girls before other soldiers stopped him and came to the aid of the victims, Daqamseh was unrepentant after his release from prison Sunday, lashing out at Israelis with harshly derogatory remarks

Daqamseh would have received capital punishment but the judges found him instable and gave him a 20-year-term in accordance with Jordanian law.

A military court deemed him mentally unstable at the time and sentenced him to life in prison, which in Jordan typically means 25 years. Jordanian lawmakers lobbied for his early release.

Upon arriving in his hometown, Daqamseh expressed no regrets, telling a reporter that Israelis are "human garbage."

Israel's government had no comment Sunday.

Israel and Jordan cooperate closely on security matters, including in the battle against Islamic extremism, even if their 1994 peace treaty remains widely unpopular in Jordan where many residents have Palestinian roots.

Credit: YouTube

Yisrael Fatihi, whose 13-year-old daughter Sivan was killed in the attack, told Israel Radio on Sunday that he had been informed by the Israeli embassy in Jordan last week that Daqamseh's release was imminent.

"It is unfortunate, but this is the situation," Fatihi said.

Daqamseh said a month ago he was very happy and thankful to all his supporters who urged his release. He had been moved to a prison wing with better conditions after spending most of his term in isolation.

Jordanian military sources said Daqamseh was released shortly after midnight, on Sunday. Several people gathered at his home to celebrate his freedom.

Family members said Daqamseh was supposed to have been freed on Monday, the 13th, but the authorities decided to release him during the night to try and minimize the celebrations.

Daqamseh's oldest son, Saif Daqamseh, told Jordanian reporters "we are happy that my father is finally with us."

King Hussein, Jordan's ruler when the shootings took place, paid a rare visit to Israel after the shooting to express his condolences to the girls' parents.

But Daqamseh became a hero to a strong opposition movement led by Islamists and nationalists who vehemently opposed the country's peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Jordanians of Palestinian origin form a large portion of the kingdom's population.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this text.

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