Family members of a Jordanian man shot dead while attacking an Israeli security guard at the embassy compound in Amman insisted Monday that he had not attacked the guard at all, and had been killed in cold blood.
Several dozen relatives of 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh demonstrated in the Jordanian capital Sunday night, demanding justice for the “martyr.”
Several called for the guard to receive the death penalty for his actions, Jordan’s Roya TV reported.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Jawawdeh, who was at the diplomatic residence to install furniture, attacked the guard with a screwdriver, lightly injuring him. The guard returned fire in “self-defense,” and killed both Jawawdeh and a second man, Bashar Hamarneh, who was there at the time.
The ministry said the guard, whose name has not been cleared for release, is immune from prosecution under the Vienna Convention, but Jordanian authorities are refusing to let him leave while they conduct an investigation, according to reports.
The incident, coming as Israel and Jordan had failed to defuse tensions over the Temple Mount, set up a high-stakes diplomatic showdown.
In comments to Jordanian television, one relative said Jawawdeh had simply come to the embassy compound to install a recently purchased bedroom set, not even knowing the buyer was Israeli.
“We demand that the government expel the ambassador of this false nation that shows mercy to no one, and does not fear God,” he said. “We will follow the investigation along with the government leaders until we get our rights, so that this criminal is put to death.”
Another said the teen was “killed in cold-blood by the Zionist entity, while in the Israeli Embassy in the Hashemite Kingdom.
“We have full faith in the Jordanian courts that they will punish the… killer with the strictest punishment… the punishment of execution,” he added.
Jawawdeh’s father was less sure of his son’s innocence, but said if he had indeed attacked the Israeli, he supported his actions.
“I didn’t expect my son to do something, but if he did something, God willing, he is a martyr,” Zakariyeh Jawawdeh told the al-Ghad newspaper.
Zakariyeh further told Saraya news that his son “didn’t have any problems until now… I raised him to be respectful to people. We don’t have any political leanings.”
He added that he was “just expecting one thing: that there will be a full report with everything that happened. There are cameras around the embassy…I just want to know who killed my son, to know what exactly happened.”
Jordanian police said in a statement they were “informed late evening (Sunday) of a shooting at a residential building inside the compound of the Israeli embassy.”
Police deployed to the scene and surrounded the area, the statement said, adding that the two Jordanians had gone into the building to carry out “carpentry work.”
An investigation into the shooting was still underway, the police said.
Israel and Jordan are bound by a 1994 peace treaty, but tensions have been high in recent days, after Israel put in place security measures at the Temple Mount following a shooting attack by three Arab Israelis who killed two Israeli police officers there on July 14 using weapons they had smuggled into the holy site.
Palestinians claim Israel is trying to assert further control over the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Israel has insisted it is not seeking to do so.
On Friday, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman after the weekly prayer to denounce the Israeli measures at the holy compound.
Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
A crowd estimated at more than 8,000 turned out for a demonstration called by Islamist movements and leftist parties.
AP contributed to this report.