Israel-Jordan border
Israel-Jordan border iStock

A Jordanian member of parliament has praised soldier Ahmed Daqamseh, who in 1997 shot dead seven Israeli schoolgirls, as a hero, i24news reported Thursday.

Dima Tahboub, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Action Front which is the political wing of Jordan’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, said Daqamseh was a hero because he was retaliating against Israel and the teenage girls were “enemies.”

Tahboub’s comments were made in an interview with British journalist Tim Sebastian, according to i24news.

Daqamseh 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, as part of a class trip.

Naharayim is located right near the Jordanian border, and Daqamseh opened fire on the girls from the Jordanian side. He killed seven of the students, and wounded six others.

A military court ultimately deemed him mentally unstable and sentenced him to life in prison, which in Jordan typically means 25 years.

Daqamseh was freed from prison this past March and was given a hero’s welcome.

In the interview which aired on Thursday on Deutsche Welle’s “Conflict Zone”, Sebastian asked Tahboub, “You’re a mother. And you’re quite happy to have 13 and 14-year-old girls, just because they are Israelis, killed? Unprotected children, killed?”

“Because they are enemies, they are enemies,” responded Tahboub, adding, “They mocked the Jordanian people, they mocked our religion. A lot of 13 and 14-year-old Palestinians were killed, why don’t you defend them also?”

“A lot of the Jordanian people still view Daqamseh as a hero, because he retaliated against the mockery of the Israelis,” she continued, according to i24news.

Jordanian parliamentarians have in the past lobbied for Daqamseh’s early release. In 2013, 110 out of 150 Jordanian MPs signed a petition calling for his release.

In 2011, then-Jordanian Justice Minister Hussein Mjali caused an uproar when he called for Daqamseh’s release, claiming that he is “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."