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Israeli travelers stranded in Jordan after officer disappears
Officer assigned to group of tourists disappears during tour of wadi; local authorities hold group at border. Source says body found Thursday morning

A group of Israeli travelers is being detained by authorities in Jordan as a local security officer who accompanied them has disappeared.

 

Jordanian sources told Ynet that the security officer's body was found Thursday morning and a source at the Foreign Ministry suggested he likely drowned.

 

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On Sunday, 21 Israelis from the Tamar Regional Council, including eight children, began a trip to Jordan to tour the neighboring country's wadis. On Wednesday, they reported to Beit She'an's Hussein Bridge in order to cross over back to Israel but were told they would have to stay in Jordan for at least another night as the officer was missing.

 

Each tourist group that enters Jordan is assigned a local security officer.

 

Eli Raz, the group's Israeli guide, described the chain of events. "The officer who accompanied the group did not do the full trek with us. We went down a valley and he preferred to take the easier route with three other travelers.

 

"At 11 am they decided to leave the spot and offered him to join them fro coffee and return to the bus but he preferred staying at the waterfall where we were meant to meet him."

 

According to Raz, the group discovered the officer was missing after finishing their trek in the valley, at which point Jordanian authorities intervened. "The three people who were with him and myself were separated from the group. We were asked to give statements."

 

Raz said that local police are holding the group at the border and noted they were lodged in a motel for the night.

 

Yehuda Rott, one of travelers, said: "We were questioned again in the morning and we are now on the Jordanian side of the border crossing. They want us to wait for further questioning.

 

"They keep asking us about the chain of events. I understand them because once we cross over we won't be at their disposal anymore. Everyone is pretty calm but soon we might start to lose our patience."

 

"We fear for the officer's life and wish we could cross the border, " he said.

 

The husband of one the travelers said it was not clear when the group would be released and allowed to return to Israel.

 

The Foreign Ministry said in response, "The Foreign Ministry is in contact with the relevant parties in Jordan. The travelers are set to return in the morning." It was further noted that the Israelis are not suspected of involvement in the officer's disappearance.

 

 

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First published: 04.04.13, 10:24
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