Israel Opens Legal Examination Into Embassy Shooting That Left Two Jordanians Dead

Israeli guard shot two after being attacked, prompting crisis with Jordan, who wants to take case to international court due to guard's diplomatic immunity

Protestors chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan July 28, 2017.
MUHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS

Israel's Foreign Ministry announced Friday night it was opening an examination into the incident at the Israeli embassy in Jordan during which an Israeli guard shot and killed two Jordanians after reportedly being attacked with a screwdriver. According to Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, the examination will follow accepted legal procedures and Israel will update Jordan on its progress and results.

"State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, in coordination with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, has instructed all the relevant parties to transfer any materials they may have regarding the event," he said. "As part of Israel's ties with Jordan, we will brief the Jordanians on the results" of the probe, he said.

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Jordan’s attorney general announced on Thursday that he intends to pursue murder charges in an international court against the Israeli Embassy security guard who killed two Jordanians after one attacked him.

Attorney General Akram Masadeh also wants the guard charged with illegal weapons possession, the Jordanian news agency Petra reported.

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Masadeh said the guard cannot be tried in Jordan because he has diplomatic immunity there. Nevertheless, he said, the guard would have no immunity in an international court.

He added that Jordanian prosecution has finished investigating the case and has transferred the relevant documents to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry so it can pursue its own measures against the guard, including urging Israel to put him on trial.

A senior Israeli official said the Jordanian government officially informed Israel on Wednesday that it won’t allow the Israeli Embassy in Amman to reopen if Israel doesn’t carry out a thorough investigation against the guard. The message was delivered to senior Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem by the Jordanian ambassador to Israel, Walid Obeidat.

Thursday morning, the Jordanian government also demanded that it be briefed in full on any legal proceedings against the guard.

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Earlier on Thursday, King Abdullah of Jordan said that how Israel deals with the guard will directly affect bilateral relations. The king, speaking on his return from a vacation in the United States, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of exploiting the embassy crisis to reap political capital.

The crisis erupted on Sunday, when a Jordanian who was in the embassy to repair some furniture attacked the guard with a screwdriver, wounding him. The guard then shot and killed his assailant, and a stray bullet also killed another Jordanian. Afterward, over 20 Israeli diplomats and guards spent more than 24 hours under siege in the embassy before the Jordanians finally allowed them to return to Israel.