A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in a 1997 shooting rampage was released Sunday, after serving 20 years in prison.
Ahmed Daqamseh opened fire on the eighth graders while they were on a class trip to the scenic “Island of Peace” border post, killing seven girls and wounding seven others. A Jordanian court later deemed Daqamseh mentally unstable and sentenced him to life in prison, rather than imposing the death penalty.
Daqamseh arrived before dawn Sunday in his home village of Ibdir in northern Jordan. Amateur video posted online showed him being surrounded by singing and dancing men, some kissing him on the cheek.
Jordan had announced several days ago that Daqamseh would be released this week, after completing his term. In Jordan, life terms are not open-ended, and prisoners can be released after 20 years.
There was no immediate Israeli government reaction Sunday. In 2011, Israel had summoned Jordan’s ambassador to express anger after the kingdom’s then-justice minister called for Daqamseh’s early release.