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Jordan releases soldier who killed 7 Israeli schoolgirls

AMMAN: A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 was released on Sunday after serving 20 years in prison, his family said.
“The authorities released Ahmad Dakamseh this Sunday around 1:00 am after he finished his jail term. He is now a free man,” his cousin Mohammed Yahya Dakamseh told AFP by phone.
Ahmad Dakamseh was released from the Bab Al-Hawa prison in Irbid, 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital Amman.
In March 1997, he fired 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.
He had been sentenced to life imprisonment, which in Jordan is equivalent to 20 years.
A family member said he was aged 46 at the time of his release, which would have made him 26 when he was sentenced. Previous reports said he was 30 at the time of the attack.
Dakamseh, who hails from Irbid’s Bani Kananah area near the Israeli border, was a married father-of-three at the time.
His motives were never entirely clear, but he told the national security court at the time that he fired his weapon at the schoolgirls after they mocked him while he was praying.
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.
The attack came less than three years after Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty.
Dakamseh was driven home on Sunday in a convoy of dozens of cars whose drivers were honking their horns, a video shared on social media showed.
Dakamseh’s 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 Dakamseh greeting relatives and posing for selfies with visitors.
Dakamseh, who suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes, was hospitalized in 2014 after he went on a five-day hunger strike to demand his release.
His strike followed Jordanian lawmakers demanding his release after Israeli soldiers killed a Jordanian judge in a scuffle at the Allenby Bridge border crossing with the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Jordan in 2011 had to distance itself from a newly appointed minister’s remarks that Dakamseh was a “hero” after Israel summoned Jordan’s ambassador.
Then justice minister Hussein Mujalli, who had also been Dakamseh’s lawyer, said he was a “hero” and did not deserve prison.
Jordan is the only Arab nation besides Egypt to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state.

AMMAN: A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 was released on Sunday after serving 20 years in prison, his family said.
“The authorities released Ahmad Dakamseh this Sunday around 1:00 am after he finished his jail term. He is now a free man,” his cousin Mohammed Yahya Dakamseh told AFP by phone.
Ahmad Dakamseh was released from the Bab Al-Hawa prison in Irbid, 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital Amman.
In March 1997, he fired 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.
He had been sentenced to life imprisonment, which in Jordan is equivalent to 20 years.
A family member said he was aged 46 at the time of his release, which would have made him 26 when he was sentenced. Previous reports said he was 30 at the time of the attack.
Dakamseh, who hails from Irbid’s Bani Kananah area near the Israeli border, was a married father-of-three at the time.
His motives were never entirely clear, but he told the national security court at the time that he fired his weapon at the schoolgirls after they mocked him while he was praying.
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.
The attack came less than three years after Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty.
Dakamseh was driven home on Sunday in a convoy of dozens of cars whose drivers were honking their horns, a video shared on social media showed.
Dakamseh’s 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 Dakamseh greeting relatives and posing for selfies with visitors.
Dakamseh, who suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes, was hospitalized in 2014 after he went on a five-day hunger strike to demand his release.
His strike followed Jordanian lawmakers demanding his release after Israeli soldiers killed a Jordanian judge in a scuffle at the Allenby Bridge border crossing with the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Jordan in 2011 had to distance itself from a newly appointed minister’s remarks that Dakamseh was a “hero” after Israel summoned Jordan’s ambassador.
Then justice minister Hussein Mujalli, who had also been Dakamseh’s lawyer, said he was a “hero” and did not deserve prison.
Jordan is the only Arab nation besides Egypt to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state.

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