Jordanian soldier kills 7 Israeli schoolgirls
Shooting outrages King Hussein
March 13, 1997
Web posted at: 6:49 p.m. EST (2349 GMT)
NAHARAYIM, Jordan (CNN) -- A Jordanian soldier opened fire
Thursday on Israeli junior high school girls visiting a
border observation post. At least seven girls died, and six
were injured, two critically.
Jordan's King Hussein expressed outrage at the killings, but
defended his earlier warning that Israel's hard-line policies
could cause an outbreak of violence. He cut short a visit to
Spain to return to Jordan.
Witnesses said a bus dropped off about 40 girls at the
observation post on the Jordan River island of Naharayim --
known as the "Island of Peace'' -- on the Israeli-Jordanian
While the girls admired the view, there was a hail of
automatic gunfire as the soldier, Lance Cpl. Ahmed Yousef
Mustafa, chased the terrified seventh- and eighth-graders
down a hill. He had changed ammunition clips before he was
overpowered by other Jordanian soldiers, authorities said.
Jordanians donate blood
Mustafa was said to be a army driver in his 20s who started
his posting at the border area earlier this year.
Seven victims were taken to a nearby Jordanian hospital. Of
those, five were dead on arrival, Jordanian Health Minister
Dr. Aref Batayneh said.
The five bodies, draped in white cloth shrouds, were flown to
Israel in an Israeli military helicopter along with two
wounded girls. Two dead girls were on the Israel side of the
border. Four of the wounded received treatment in Israel,
In Shuna, near the site of the shooting, dozens of Jordanians
stood in line to give blood when they heard of the shooting.
"What happened today is a shame to all of us," Hussein told
reporters. "It's a shame to the Jordanians and their
characters. It's a shooting in the back ... I pray this will
be an awakening to all of us."
Hussein: 'This is not political'
The shooting comes amid growing tensions between Israel and
Jordan. In a letter released earlier this week, Hussein said
the actions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seem
"bent on destroying all I believe in or have striven to
But on Thursday, Hussein telephoned Israel's Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu to offer condolences, and downplayed the
significance of the shooting. "This is not political," he
Netanyahu called the attack "unacceptable."
"Violence ... should be banished from our midst," he said.
"We should all unite in the battle against those who would
violate the basic human rights of children and trample all
human rights into the dust."
U.S. President Bill Clinton condemned the slayings and urged
Middle East leaders to redouble their efforts toward peace
"There is no justification or excuse for these acts," Clinton
said in Washington.
The gunman's motives were not immediately known. Jordanian
soldiers at the scene said he "went crazy."
The attack occurred just before noon. Naharayim, 55 miles
(88 km) northeast of Tel Aviv, belongs to Jordan, which
leases the island to Israel under the 1994 peace accord.
Israel farms the land.
The girls, ages 13 to 15, came from a school in the central
Israeli town of Beit Shemesh.
Teacher Rosa Chemy said the group of schoolgirls met with a
Jordanian officer, who checked the their ID cards before they
started a guided tour of the island.
"We are standing and listening and all of a sudden we hear
shots," Chemy told Israel radio. "A Jordanian soldier who
was standing above began shooting."
A girl named Oranit, who was shot in the hand, said: "I
turned around and saw a soldier taking a magazine from his
rifle and firing, and we ran to the hill. ... He shot me in
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