Embassy guard involved in Amman shooting returned to Israel

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Israel says Jordan did not bind the guard's return with the removal of the metal detectors at Al-Aqsa

Security forces stand guard outside the Israeli embassy in the residential Rabiyeh neighbourhood of the Jordanian capital Amman following the incident (AFP)
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Tuesday 25 July 2017 7:28 UTC
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Israel's embassy staff in Amman, including the security guard involved in the shooting incident that claimed two Jordanians, have returned to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Monday.

The guard had fatally shot a Jordanian who attacked him with a screwdriver at the embassy compound in Amman on Sunday, while a second Jordanian was accidentally killed, officials and a security source said.

The incident may cause a rift in already tense Israel-Jordan relations, because Jordan wanted to bring the guard in for questioning, but Israel said he had diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.

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 Palestinian citizens of Israel gunmen near the site on 14 July.

The head of Israel's Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, had visited Amman on Monday to try to calm the situation.

Jordan’s King Abduallah also spoke to Netanyahu over the phone on Monday, urging him to remove the new security measures at Al-Aqsa.

Netanyahu's office said negotiations with Jordan were taking place over the previous day in "an atmosphere of cooperation".

"There has been no Jordanian demand to bind the guard's return [to Israel] with the removal of the metal detectors at the Temple Mount," a statement read, rebuffing media reports to that effect.

The Jordanian suspect was in a flat beside the Israeli embassy to instal furniture, and stabbed the security guard in the back with the screwdriver, Israel's foreign ministry said.

The guard then responded by shooting dead the Jordanian worker, while the apartment owner who was there at the time was wounded and later died from his injuries, according to the foreign ministry and a security source.

The Jordanian capital is a short distance from a border crossing that leads via the occupied West Bank to Israel.

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

On Friday, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman after the weekly prayer to denounce the Israeli measures at the holy compound.

Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.