Israel's “cold peace” with Jordan got a little colder Monday, as Jordan's Justice Minister, Hussein Mjali, joined demonstrators outside his own office who were demanding the release of an imprisoned terrorist who killed seven Israeli teenage girls in 1997 – and as a result, Israel is up in arms.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that it saw the declaration by Mjali as “a serious matter. We are shocked and disgusted at the reports in the Jordanian press on Mjali's comments concerning the Naharayim murderer,” the statement said, adding that they were especially shocking, “as they come from the minister responsible for law and justice.”
The murderer Mjali and the demonstrators were seeking to free is Ahmed Daqamseh, who was a soldier in the Jordanian army when he opened fire on a group of students who were visiting the “peace island” of Naharayim on March 13, 1997. The students, 7th and 8th grade girls from the religious Amit school in Beit Shemesh, were on a class trip. Naharayim is located right on the Jordanian border, and Daqamseh opened fire on the girls from the Jordanian side. He killed seven of the students, and wounded six others. Daqamseh was sentenced by a Jordanian military court to life in prison – with defense lawyers claiming that he was “mentally wounded” and could not be held directly responsible for his actions.
As it turns out, Mjali was one of the attorneys who had defended Daqamseh. “I'm committed to be here with you as his lawyer,” Mjali told the protestors, who consider Daqamseh a “hero,” as does Mjali. Speaking to AFP, Mjali said "I support the demonstrators' demand to free Ahmad Dakamseh. He's a hero. He does not deserve prison. If a Jewish person killed Arabs, his country would have built a statue for him instead of imprisonment." He added that as far as he was concerned, the case was not over, and that he would continue to defend the murderer.
A report said that Israel's ambassador to Jordan, Daniel Nevo, had demanded that the Jordanian government issue a condemnation of the statement, but Jordanian officials would only say that Mjali did not represent the government.
In a statement, the Almagor terror victims organization Monday night demanded that the Foreign Ministry haul in the Jordanian ambassador to Israel for a clarification of his government's position. Almagor also urged the Justice Ministry to sue Jordan in the International Court in the Hague for aiding and abetting war crimes, by not taking stronger action against Daqamseh