Guard at Israeli Embassy in Jordan Lightly Wounded in Stabbing; Assailant Killed

Israeli security officer lightly wounded, initial reports say; Jordanian forces put area on lockdown

Barak Ravid
Jack Khoury
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Security forces outside the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital Amman, July 23, 2017.
Security forces outside the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital Amman, July 23, 2017.Credit: KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP
Barak Ravid
Jack Khoury

>> UPDATE: Diplomatic Crisis With Jordan: Embassy Guard Who Killed a Local Prevented From Returning to Israel

A guard at the Israeli Embassy in Amman was stabbed on Sunday by a Jordanian carpenter who was installing furniture in his apartment near the embassy compound. The Israeli security officer, who was lightly wounded in the incident, shot and killed the attacker. 

Jordanian media reported that the attacker was 17 years old. Citing security sources, the reports said that attack was personal and not politically motivated.

The unusual security matter began when a team of carpenters came to install furniture in one of the apartments where the Israeli security guards live, near the Amman embassy compound. 

The Jordanian landlord and two other Palestinian workers were also in the apartment at the time of the incident. One of the workers crept behind the officer and began to stab him with a screwdriver - at which point the officer jumped back, cocked his weapon and fired. He was lightly wounded in the jump.

The assailant died from wounds sustained during the shooting. The landlord was also wounded during the incident, later succumbing to his wounds.

The guard arrived at the embassy immediately following the incident. A Foreign Ministry official noted that he is an accredited diplomat, immune from interrogation and arrest under the Vienna Convention.

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A large contingent of Jordanian security forces arrived following the shooting, blocked all access routes to the area and launched an investigation. The background to the incident is still not clear, and the Jordanian General Security Administration issued a statement saying the circumstances surrounding the incident were still being investigated. The statement did not say that a Jordanian carpenter had attacked an Israeli.

Minutes after the incident, the Amman embassy and Foreign Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem declared a state of emergency. “The last thing we needed was a rerun of the attack on the embassy in Cairo,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official, referring to the September 2011 storming of the embassy in Egypt by hundreds of protesters.

Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein and the deputy chief of staff following the incident. The Foreign Ministry and security forces are working with the Jordanian government in various channels to bring the affair to a close.

Although Jordanian and foreign media were reporting on the serious security incident, for several hours Israel’s military censor refused to allow publication of the details out of concern for the safety of the Israeli diplomats. Israeli media were given the go-ahead to report the incident only after all the embassy personnel had safely crossed the border into Israel.

The security cabinet discussed the matter, as well as the Temple Mount crisis, for nearly five hours and will reconvene for further discussion later Monday.