Israelis mourn slain schoolgirls
March 14, 1997
Web posted at: 11:51 a.m. EST (1651 GMT)
BEIT SHEMESH, Israel (CNN) -- Grieving parents leaned on
relatives and wails carried across the land Friday as
thousands of Israelis attended the funerals of seven
schoolgirls killed by a Jordanian soldier.
"If anyone thinks the murder of little girls will bring
this people to its knees ... he does not know the strength
that exists in each person standing here around me," Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a funeral for four
of the girls.
At the Fierst School, a religious school in Beit Shemesh, the
classmates of the victims gathered Friday, sobbing and
hugging each other for comfort. A special prayer service
was also held for the slain classmates. Afterward, students
split into small groups for counseling by social workers and
Relatives of victim Adi Malka cried, "Adi, the beautiful."
Adi was fluent in sign language and served as her deaf
parents' main link to the world. "The parents can't
understand it," said Aviram, Adi's 13-year-old cousin. "They
are having a very difficult time."
The schoolgirls, who ranged in age from 13 to 15, were killed
Thursday when Ahmed Mousa Daqamseh, 28, a Jordanian soldier,
opened fire on them during a field trip to the Jordan River's
"Island of Peace."
Military investigators in Jordan were interrogating Daqamseh
Friday. Daqamseh's father described the son as having
psychological problems and said police found tranquilizers on
his boy when he was apprehended.
"He was always secluded and he looked always sad and lonely,"
Moussa, the elder Daqamseh, said of his son.
The gunman, a high school dropout, was drafted 12 years ago
and worked as a driver in the army. He is married and has two
sons and a daughter.
The gunman's mother said her son was mentally ill and begged
for mercy from King Hussein, who condemned the attack and
promised to carry out swift justice.
On Thursday morning, Daqamseh sat in an army jeep at an
outpost on Naharayim, a manmade island that Israel returned
to Jordan under their 1994 peace treaty and is a popular
tourist spot for Israelis.
Since the shooting, there has been confusion about the name
of the gunman, initially identified by Jordanian authorities
as Lance Cpl. Ahmed Yousef Mustafa.
Acting Jordan Information Minister Nasser Lawzi said Friday
there was no suggestion of a political motive behind the
attack, which comes at a time of increased tensions between
Israel and Jordan.
He said investigators may publish some preliminary findings
in the next few days. He also said Israel had sent a military
representative to work with Jordanian investigators. Lawzi
did not give the gunman's name.
The gunman could face the death penalty if convicted. It is
not immediately clear if he will be tried in Jordan military
court or in the civilian judicial system.
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