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Israeli guard kills 2 Jordanians in Amman embassy confrontation

© Khalil Mazraawi, AFP | Security forces stand guard outside the Israeli embassy in the residential Rabiyeh neighbourhood of the Jordanian capital Amman following an 'incident' on July 23, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-07-24

An Israeli guard shot and killed two Jordanians late Sunday at an Israeli embassy compound in the Jordanian capital, Amman, after one of them lunged at him with a screwdriver, Israeli officials said Monday.

The victims included a Jordanian carpenter and the owner of the building used by Israeli embassy staff who was hit by gunfire and later succumbed to his injuries.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the two Jordanian workmen entered the building Sunday evening to replace furniture.

The incident has the potential to cause a serious rift in already tense Israeli-Jordanian relations.

Tensions have escalated between the two countries since Israel installed metal detectors at entry points to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem after two Israeli policemen were shot dead by three Arab-Israeli gunmen near the site on Friday.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry statement said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the foreign minister, had spoken to the security guard and to ambassador Einat Schlein and stressed that the guard had immunity from questioning and prosecution under the Vienna Convention.

It did not specify the whereabouts of the embassy staff. The Jordanian capital is a short distance from a border crossing that leads, via the occupied West Bank, to Israel.

A flashpoint of anti-Israeli protests

Israel had imposed a ban on reporting Sunday's incident and only broke its silence early on Monday morning. Israel Radio said the ban had been imposed because Jordan wanted to question the security guard but Israel said he had diplomatic immunity.

Relations had been cemented in a peace deal in 1994 but reached crisis point three years later when Mossad intelligence officers tried but failed to assassinate senior Hamas official Khaled Meshaal in Jordan.

Ties recovered after Israel delivered the antidote for the poison with which Meshaal had been injected. The Mossad chief at the time resigned and the two agents who carried out the failed plot were arrested and held in Jordan, but later freed.

The fortress-like embassy in the affluent Rabae district of Amman is protected by Jordanian gendarmes. It has long been a flashpoint of anti-Israeli protests at times of turmoil in the Palestinian territories.

Violence against Israelis is rare in Jordan, a tightly policed country that is also a staunch regional ally of the United States. It also shares a long border with Israel.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-07-23

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