Amid heavy Jordanian pressure, Israel announces probe into Amman embassy attack
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Amid heavy Jordanian pressure, Israel announces probe into Amman embassy attack

Foreign Ministry says findings into killing by Israeli guard of two Jordanians, one of whom was attacking him, will be passed on to Jordan

Jordanian security forces stand on guard in front of protesters during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Jordanian security forces stand on guard in front of protesters during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)

The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Friday announced that a preliminary probe was launched into the attack Sunday near the Israeli Embassy in Amman where an Israeli security guard killed two Jordanian nationals, including a teen assailant who was attacking him with a screwdriver.

The announcement came after Jordan announced that Israeli embassy staff, who came back to Israel on Monday following the violent incident, would not be allowed to return to Amman until an investigation was opened. Jordan has been pressing Israel to probe the incident, which has promoted a major diplomatic dispute between the two countries, which were already navigating tense relations surrounding violence at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, administered by a Jordanian-controlled trust.

On Friday, hundreds of Jordanians held a protest near the Israeli embassy in Amman over the incident, calling on the government to shut it down and cancel the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that Israel was “launching a probe process into the incident, in accordance with the appropriate legal proceedings in such matters.”

Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)

“The [Israeli] state prosecutor [Shai Nitzan], in coordination with the attorney general [Avichai Mandelblit], has instructed all the relevant bodies to submit all related materials they possess,” read the statement.

“In the framework of Israel-Jordan relations, Israel will update Jordan on the developments and findings of the proceedings,” the ministry said.

Jordan had allowed the guard and other embassy staff to return to Israel following the incident, but on Thursday charged the security officer, known in Israel by his first name Ziv, with murder in absentia.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017 meets with security guard 'Ziv,' who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman on July 23. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017 meets with security guard ‘Ziv,’ who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman on July 23. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Mandelblit told ministers during a security cabinet meeting following the incident that as a signatory to the Vienna Convention, Israel is required to investigate suspects upon their return from a host country that provided diplomatic immunity for charges against them, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Wednesday.

Jordanian authorities had initially sought to interrogate the guard over the incident, while Israel refused to hand him over, citing diplomatic immunity.

Only after US intervention did Amman relent, allowing the guard and the rest of the embassy staff to leave Jordan.

Israel, which questioned the guard on Thursday, said he fired in self-defense, and that the attack on him was nationalistically motivated.

Also Thursday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II strongly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for warmly receiving Ziv at his office.

The guard was welcomed home and greeted as a hero by Netanyahu, who embraced him and said: “You acted well, calmly and we also had an obligation to get you out.”

Mourners erect banners bearing the portrait of 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh, who was killed on the weekend when he attacked a security guard at the Israeli embassy compound in the Jordanian capital with a screwdriver, during his funeral in Amman on July 25, 2017. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)
Mourners erect banners bearing the portrait of 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh, who was killed on the weekend when he attacked a security guard at the Israeli embassy compound in the Jordanian capital with a screwdriver, during his funeral in Amman on July 25, 2017. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

The king called for the security guard to be tried and accused Netanyahu of “political showmanship” and of using “this crime to score personal political points,” after the Israeli leader posted photos of himself embracing the guard.

The monarch threatened the affair would have a negative affect on bilateral ties between Amman and Jerusalem.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the security guard shot dead a Jordanian worker, Mohammed Jawawdeh, 17, who had come to an apartment to install furniture and had stabbed him in the back with a screwdriver.

A second Jordanian, the landlord of the apartment, was also killed — apparently by accident. He was buried on Thursday in Madaba, southwest of the capital.

A Jordanian inquiry had confirmed the sequence of events.

The attack at the embassy occurred over a week after Israel installed security measures at the Temple Mount in the wake of a July 14 terror attack in which terrorists used weapons smuggled into the holy site to kill two Israeli officers near the compound.

The security measures at the sensitive site were met with near-daily clashes and protests by Palestinians and a boycott of the compound by Muslim worshipers. Tensions between Israel and Jordan also soared. Jordan is a custodian of the site, the third-holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Jews revere the hilltop compound as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical temples. It is the holiest site in Judaism, and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray.

Israel rolled back all the security measures on Thursday.

Muslim prayers on Friday ended peacefully.

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