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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Israeli businessman killed in Jordan
Yitzhak Schnir's apartment in Amman
Mr Schnir was shot outside his rented apartment
Israel has called on Jordan to carry out a thorough investigation into the killing of an Israeli businessman in the capital, Amman.

The dead man, who has been named as Yitzhak Schnir, a diamond trader, is the only Israeli to be killed in Amman since it signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

The land of Jordan is a pure land and we do not accept that the Zionist Jews and the Americans lay a finger on it

Nobles of Jordan
He was shot dead by at least two gunmen.

A previously unknown group, calling itself the Nobles of Jordan, said it shot Mr Schnir, claiming he worked for the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.

A spokesman for Mossad denied this, describing Mr Schnir as an innocent businessman.

Jordan's Information Minister, Saleh al-Qallab, said Mr Schnir was probably killed in a business feud.

"It is thought, but not confirmed, that it could be settling of scores among business associates," Mr al-Qallab told Reuters news agency.

Mr Schnir spent long periods on business in Jordan, where he had travelled from Israel on Monday.

His body was found near his rented villa in the upmarket Jebel Amman district of the city.

Group claims responsibility

In the Lebanese capital Beirut, Hezbollah-run al-Manar television station carried a statement from the Nobles of Jordan group, claiming responsibility for the attack.

It said: "One of our units...carried out the killing on Monday evening of a Zionist Mossad agent who works in the suburbs of Amman under the cover of a businessman.

"The land of Jordan is a pure land and we do not accept that the Zionist Jews and the Americans lay a finger on it."

Israeli embassy employee Yoram Havivian
An Israeli embassy employee was shot in Amman last November
A BBC correspondent in Amman, Caroline Hawley, says there is intense Arab anger against Israel at the moment over its handling of the Palestinian uprising, and threats have been made against Israeli interests in Jordan.

Last year, two Israeli diplomats were shot and wounded in Amman, and in 1997 seven Israeli schoolgirls were shot dead by a Jordanian soldier on the border with Israel.

Jordan is one of only two Arab countries to have Israeli embassies on their soil, but much of the population is Palestinian in origin and remains hostile towards the Jewish state.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley reports
Jordanian officials believe it was an ordinary crime linked to a financial dispute
Yoav Biran, Israeli Foreign Ministry
"The most probable answer... is that it was a political-terrorist assassination"
See also:

19 Nov 00 | Middle East
Israeli diplomat shot in Jordan
29 Nov 00 | Middle East
Q&A: Crisis in the Middle East
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