The families of seven Israeli schoolgirls murdered in 1997 expressed outrage on Friday in reaction to reports that a majority of Jordan’s parliament petitioned the government to pardon the girls’ killer. The parents vowed to do everything in their power to thwart any such move, while a source in the Jordanian parliament said King Abdullah did not intend to grand the request.
Jordanian soldier Ahmad Musa Mustafa Daqamseh shot seven Israeli schoolgirls dead during a school trip to the so-called Isle of Peace on the Israel-Jordan border in 1997. The late King Hussein made an unprecedented trip to each of the victims’ homes to express his personal sorrow and the grief of his nation in the immediate aftermath of the killings, and a Jordanian military tribunal later sentenced Daqamseh to life imprisonment with hard labor for the murders.
Nurit Fatihi, whose daughter Sivan was among the seven girls killed, said she was disappointed with the Jordanian government.
“I expected [Daqamseh] to rot in jail, but I see I can’t count on the Jordanian court and authorities to promote justice,” she said. “We’ve addressed government officials in the past, but it didn’t really help.”
“Just like I will never see my daughter again, so too he does not deserve to see his family. Every one of the girls would have a family and children by now,” Fatihi said.
“This time of year only makes the pain harder to bear,” said Miri Meiri, a mother of another of the victims, referring to Israel’s Memorial Day for soldiers and terror victims on Sunday night-Monday. “Maybe they’re doing it now on purpose.”
Shlomo Bedayev, another parent of one of the schoolgirls, said the parents were united in their attempts to thwart the proposed pardoning.
“I want people to put themselves in my place and ask themselves if they’d be willing to come to terms with the release of a murderer who killed one of their family members,” he said.
Following his arrest, Daqamseh said that he had operated alone and was not part of any organized terror group. He later expressed regret over the killings, claiming he was not aware of his actions.
“I don’t know what happened to me,” Daqamseh was quoted as saying in an interview with a Yedioth Ahronoth reporter. “I lost control and acted.”
A former Jordanian minister, Hussein Mjali, implied that the reason behind the Jordanian MPs’ petition, signed by 100 members of the Amman parliament, was the growing popularity that the shooter recently gained in Jordan.
“If a Jew killed Arabs, they would have built a monument in his honor,” Mjali was quoted as saying in the past.
In order for Daqamseh to actually be released, the petition would have to be ratified by Jordan’s King Abdullah, who, according to a source in the Jordanian parliament, currently shows no intention of doing so.