Ahmad Daqamseh, who murdered seven Israeli girls in a massacre at the Island of Peace site in Naharayim in 1997, was released from Jordanian prison early Sunday after having served a 20-year sentence.
On March 13, 1997, Daqamseh—who at the time was a 26-year-old soldier in the Jordanian army—opened fire at a group of 7th and 8th grade schoolgirls the AMIT Fuerst School in Beit Shemesh, who were on a class field trip.
Seven girls were murdered in the attack: Sivan Fathi, 13, of Tzelafon; Karen Cohen, 14, of Beit Shemesh; Ya’ala Me’iri, 13, of Beit Shemesh; Shiri Badayev, 14, of Beit Shemesh; Natali Alkalai, 13, of Beit Shemesh; Adi Malka, 13, of Beit Shemesh; Nirit Cohen, 13, of Beit Shemesh. Six others girls were wounded in the attack.
The shooting came three years after Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty. King Hussein, Jordan’s ruler in 1997, paid a rare visit to Israel to express his condolences to the girls’ parents.
A military court deemed him mentally unstable and sentenced him to life in prison, which in Jordan typically means 25 years.
Recently, Jordanian government Spokesman Mohammad Al Momani confirmed that Daqamseh will be released when he is done serving his sentence. Monday will mark exactly 20 years since the mass murder.
One of the Jordanian news sites posted photos from Daqamseh’s release, showing celebrations in his hometown, the city of Irbid in northern Jordan.
“My father was released and he is now with us,” Daqamseh’s son, Sif, told the Jordanian site.
His wife declared that “my happiness is unlike any other happiness” at her husband’s release.
An inside source told a Jordanian news site that Daqamseh was released late at night to prevent such scenes of celebrations, to no avail.
In recent years, calls for Daqamseh’s early release arose several times in Jordan. In the lower house of the Jordanian Parliament, MPs collected signatures for a petition urging King Abdullah to grant the murderer pardon. Despite this, Jordanian authorities insisted he must finish serving his sentence.