Hours after his release from 20 years in jail for gunning down seven Israeli schoolgirls, ex-Jordanian solider Ahmed Daqamseh declared on Sunday that Israelis are “human waste” that must be eradicated.
Daqamseh made his remarks to al-Jazeera TV station, shortly after returning from jail to his home village of Ibdir to cheering friends and family.
“The Israelis are the human waste of people, that the rest of the world has vomited up at our feet,” he told the TV station.
“We must eliminate them by fire or by burial. If this is not done by our hands, the task will fall on the future generations to do.”
In remarks directed to the Jordanian people, Daqamseh urged: “Do not believe the lie that is normalization with the Zionist entity. Do not believe the lie that is the two-state solution. Palestine is one land from the river to the sea, there is no state called ‘Israel.'”
In a later interview with Jordan’s “Al-Rad” newspaper, Daqamseh said that he did not want to cause political instability in Jordan, and indicated he was not planning to carry out future attacks.
“My position regarding Zionists is known. I did what I did 20 years ago and that’s it,” he said.
In March 1997, Daqamseh opened fire with an automatic weapon at Israeli schoolgirls on a trip to the Jordan-Israel border, killing seven of them and wounding five others and a teacher. A Jordanian court later deemed Daqamseh mentally unstable and sentenced him to life in prison, rather than imposing the death penalty.
Jordan’s then ruler King Hussein condemned the attack and later traveled to Israel to offer his condolences to the families of the murdered schoolgirls. Amman also paid compensation.
Early on Sunday morning, Daqamseh was released from the Bab al-Hawa prison in Irbid, 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital Amman after serving the mandatory 20 years.
Daqamseh was driven home in a convoy of dozens of cars whose drivers were honking their horns, a video shared on social media showed.
His brother Bassem said the family home was full of well-wishers.
“He is in good health, wearing a black suit among his relatives and close family including his 78-year-old mother,” his brother said.
Videos circulated on social media showed Daqamseh greeting relatives and posing for selfies with visitors.
‘Children’s blood not worthless’
There was no immediate official reaction from neighboring Israel, but relatives of the slain schoolgirls slammed Daqamseh’s release.
“This morning takes us back 20 years, to that horrible day,” said Hezi Cohen, whose daughter Nirit was shot dead in the 1997 attack.
“I’d like to tell the (Israeli) prime minister and defense minister: Our children’s blood should not be worthless,” he told Israeli news website Ynet.
“You should have acted vis-à-vis Jordan to prevent this release at any cost.”
Orit Cohen, whose sister Keren was killed, said: “Who says that tomorrow he (Daqamseh) won’t carry out another attack and murder more Israelis?”
Israel Fatihi, whose daughter Sivan was killed in the attack, said the Israeli ambassador to Jordan had warned them of the Jordanian’s release.
Daqamseh “was called a hero in the Jordanian parliament at the time of the murder. If that’s what they said in parliament, what can we expect from the family?”
Israel’s “peace with Jordan is between us (Israelis) and the royal family — not the people or the parliament,” he said.
Jordan is the only Arab nation besides Egypt to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state.
Fatihi recalled King Hussein’s condolence visit, saying he and his family had been sitting on the floor in mourning at the time and that the monarch knelt down next to them. “We told him we really appreciated his visit,” Fatihi said.
Nurit, his wife, said their daughter Sivan was a “very happy” child who “took everything easily.” She said she misses “her laughter, her smile, her joy of life.”
“Despite the murder we are for peace,” she said.
Keren Ofri Mizrachi, one of the girls Daqamseh shot and wounded in the attack, said his release from prison was a difficult day for her. She told Israel’s Channel 10 TV how he shot her four times from close range while she was trying to escape the carnage. Her twin sister was also shot and wounded in the attack.
“I saw the look of murder in his eyes,” she said, adding that his release had brought memories flooding back. It feels like being “wounded again.” But, she added, “I have chosen to live. I won’t allow anybody or anything in the world break me. I am strong, I am a proud Jew. I have a family and children, they are my strength.”