On Sunday, Jordanian Ahmed Daqamseh was released from prison after 20 years. He was received as a hero in his hometown, and he does not regret the killings of seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997.
On 13 March 1997 a Jordanian soldier began to shoot at a group of 80 Israeli schoolgirls who were on an excursion to a border crossing called "peace island". Seven schoolgirls aged 13-14 years old were killed and five wounded before the rifle failed. Fellow soldiers then overpowered him and assisted the victims.
Photos and videos from Daqamsehs homecoming Sunday, shows that he is welcomed and greeted by relatives, friends and followers. He is being embraced, kissed on the cheeks and a poster has the words: "Welcome to the hero Daqamseh."
According to news agencies, he regrets nothing and said that "Israelis are human garbage" and several other derogatory comments about Israel. He has previously said that he opened fire on the girls because they disturbed him in prayer.
The Jordanian military court sentenced him to life imprisonment instead of death in 1997, because they believed he was mentally unstable. A life sentence in Jordan typically means about 20 years. There has also been a campaign to get Daqamseh released.
In the Israeli media, several of the victims and their families spoke on how they perceive the release of the man behind the massacre.
Hezi Cohen is the father of one of the slain girls, and made statements to the online edition of Yedioth Ahronoth.
- On one hand, he has served his sentence the Jordanian court gave him. But if he had received 20 years for every girl he killed, as he should, he would have rotted in prison for the rest of his life, says Cohen.
He believes the Israeli government should have worked harder towards Jordan to prevent the release.
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