A Jordanian man stabbed and lightly wounded an Israeli security officer at the Israeli embassy in Amman on Sunday before he was shot dead, a security source said. A second Jordanian was also killed.
The incident occurred late Sunday afternoon, but was kept under gag order by the Israeli military censor for 11 hours until Monday morning.
It took place at “a residential building inside the compound of the Israeli embassy,” Jordanian police said in a statement.
As of Monday morning, the Israeli guard was being prevented by Jordanian authorities from leaving the country. Jordanian officials were seeking to question him, and Israel was refusing to allow this, sparking a diplomatic crisis.
Three people were initially wounded in the incident, police said. Two Jordanians later died, according to authorities and the news site Hala Akhbar, linked to the Jordanian military.
“The first Jordanian, 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh, succumbed to his injuries at the scene. The second, Bashar Hamarneh, a doctor who was in the residential quarter of the embassy at the time of the incident… died of his injuries after midnight in hospital,” a security source told AFP.
The injured Israeli is “deputy director of security at the Israeli embassy and is still receiving treatment in hospital,” the source added.
The Israeli official was said to be lightly injured in the incident.
In an earlier statement, police said they were notified in the late afternoon of a shooting at the compound in the residential Rabiyeh neighborhood of Amman. It said that two Jordanians had gone into the building to carry out “carpentry work.”
After the incident, Jordanian security forces were deployed in the streets around the embassy. According to Jordanian media reports, forces used tear gas to disperse protesters who gathered at the site after the incident.
An investigation into the shooting was still underway. The guard was prohibited by Jordanian authorities from leaving the country, though the Israeli Foreign Ministry argued that according to the Vienna Convention, the guard has diplomatic immunity.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Jawawdeh was a carpenter doing work on furniture in the building, who then began stabbing the guard. It described the second Jordanian man, Hamarneh, as the owner of the building, who was there are the time, along with two other workers.
According to reports, Jawawdeh used a screwdriver to carry out the attack.
Some reports in Jordan described the incident as a domestic dispute, but Israeli reports indicated Jerusalem suspected the attack was nationalistically motivated, against the background of rising tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The father of Jawawdeh described his son as a “martyr for Allah,” in an interview with Jordanian news site al-Ghad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in contact with both the head of the embassy and the guard overnight, according to the ministry, which said the issue was included in cabinet discussions overnight regarding spiraling Temple Mount tensions .
“The Foreign Ministry and security officials are working via different channels with the government of Jordan,” the ministry said in a statement.
The attack comes amid mounting tensions between Israel and Jordan over the Temple Mount following a July 14 attack in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers on duty just outside the compound with guns they had smuggled into the holy site.
In the wake of the attack, Israel closed the site, known to Muslims as Haram Al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), for 48 hours as it searched for more weapons, and then installed metal detector gates at entrances to the compound. Muslim worshipers have generally refused to go through the gates, Muslim and Arab leaders have objected to them as a change in the status quo at the site, and there have been daily protests in Jerusalem and beyond.
Five Palestinians were killed in the clashes on Friday and Saturday, including one who died when a petrol bomb he was about to throw at Israeli troops exploded prematurely.
Late Friday night, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed to death three members of the Salomon family at their Shabbat table in the Halamish settlement.
— Saji Assi (@assi_saji) July 23, 2017
Jordan, which plays a key role in administering Muslim sites on the compound, has vehemently objected to Israeli security measures at the site since the attack.
Jordan has also angered Israel after the Jordanian parliament last week praised the July 14 terrorists, even though King Abdullah II condemned the attack.
The parliament also criticized Israel for closing the Temple Mount, and prayed for the souls of the three terrorists who carried out the attack.
Hundreds of people have also taken part in recent protests against Israel in Jordan, which has a large Palestinian population.
Muslim leaders say the metal detectors mark a change to the status quo at the site. Israel says the July 14 attack showed an imperative for reinforced security measures.
The Islamic Waqf, Jordanian custodians of the holy site, opposed the presence of the metal detectors and called on Palestinians and Israeli Arabs not to enter the site to pray there.
The Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews, as the site of the biblical temples. It is the third holiest site in Islam, where it is known as the Al-Aqsa compound or Noble Sanctuary, as the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
The Waqf is entirely controlled and funded by the Jordanian government. It administers daily life on the Temple Mount, which includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock, archaeological sites, museums and schools.
When Israel conquered East Jerusalem in 1967, then defense minister Moshe Dayan decided it would be best if the Waqf would continue to administer the site, in order to avoid a larger conflagration with the Muslim world. Jews would be allowed to visit, but not to pray, he decided — utilizing the rabbinical consensus in Jewish religious law that Jews should not set foot atop the Mount for fear of defiling the temples’ most sacred space, the Holy of Holies.
From then on, it was agreed that Israel would be responsible for security around the perimeter of the site, while the Jordanian-controlled Jerusalem Waqf would be responsible for what happens within the compound.