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Jordanian judge shot dead by Israeli border guards

There are three pieces here on the killing of judge Raed Zuaiter: 1) Jordan Times editorial, 2) International Business Times, 3) Jack Khoury in Haaretz.

Welcome to Israel at the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge crossing (not including Arabs)

Indefensible act

Editorial, Jordan Times
March 11, 2014

Irrespective of how Israel spins this one, irrespective of what the Israeli investigation into the killing of Jordanian judge Raed Zuaiter by Israeli guards at the King Hussein Bridge border crossing reveals, there are some incontrovertible facts that all have come to know.

For one, the murdered judge carried no arms and at no time did he pose a real threat to the Israeli guards.

Even if it is true that the judge had tried to wrest control of the gun of one of the Israeli soldiers — as alleged by the soldier, but refuted by eyewitnesses — after a scuffle, there is no justification for a shot to kill.

Warning shots or, still bad enough, a shot to disable the alleged assaulter would have been more than enough.

The Jordanian judge was shot by the soldier who alleges he was physically attacked and by another soldier after the first shot.

Assuming that the first shot was by the soldier who allegedly feared for his life, why did the second one shoot an already injured, or possibly dead, man lying on the pavement if not with the intent to inflict fatal wounds?

People who cross into Israel have a common complaint about Israeli guards: they are rough, arrogant, rude and unhelpful.

These soldiers are, if anything, a reflection of their society: brainwashed into hating Arabs and killing them in cold blood just because they can.

The murdered judge must have been provoked to physically attack an Israeli soldier manning the border crossing. After all, instances of Israeli soldiers exhibiting insulting behaviour and inhuman treatment are not rare.

Whatever the case, the murder is heinous and unjustifiable.

Jordan cannot put all its faith in an Israeli-led investigation. A joint team of investigators has to be formed for this purpose so that the true full story comes out objectively.

Appropriate punishment has to be meted out to the guilty soldiers. No mentally disturbed label should shelter them from paying for the murder.

And Israel might wish to revise its policy of hatred and arrogance, responsible for the irresponsible behaviour of most of its army personnel.

Below: Jordanians, who tried to set ablaze a makeshift Israeli flag in Jordan’s House of Representatives on March 11, 2014, demand their government take action against Israel. Photo by AFP/STR)

Killing of Jordanian judge at Allenby crossing. Photo by Israel Airports Authority Spokesperson

Jordanian Judge Shot Dead by Israeli Soldiers ‘Attacked Border Guards’

By Umberto Bacchi, IBT
March 11, 2014

Hundreds of angry Palestinians have turned out for the funerals of a Palestine-born Jordanian judge shot dead by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) at a border crossing.

A crowd carried the body of Raed Zueter, 38, wrapped in the flags of Palestine and Jordan across his native city of Nablus.

“They killed my only son in cold blood,” Zueter’s father Alaa told AFP. “My son was unarmed, he wouldn’t even know how to use a weapon.”

The IDF said that Zueter, who had Jordanian citizenship and worked as a judge in Amman, tried to snatch a weapon and strangle a soldier at the Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.

“The terrorist charged forces with a metal pole while shouting “Allah Akbar,” and then attempted to seize one soldier’s weapon,” the IDF said.

“Soldiers responded to the attack in accordance with standard procedures, firing at the terrorist’s lower extremities. The suspect then began to strangle a soldier, and the forces again resorted to using live fire, resulting in the terrorist’s death.”

Alaa Zueter said witnesses told him that they saw Israeli soldiers insulting his son and pushing him to the ground before opening fire.

Others claimed the incident was sparked by an argument over a cigarette, AFP reported.

The shooting triggered protests both in the West Bank and Jordan, where demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Protesters called for Tel Aviv’s envoy to be expelled while some burnt Israeli flags.

Jordan’s government vowed to take “firm measures” against those responsible.

“We are following up the investigation,” Mohammad Momani, Jordan’s minister of state for media affairs said.

“When we get the results we will announce firm measures. We also take measures against those involved in the killing of the judge.”

The Palestinian government called for an independent probe to be launched. It described the killing as “one of a series of violations of human rights in Palestine”.

The office of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel regrets the death of Judge Raed Zeiter at the King Hussein (Allenby) bridge and expresses its sympathies to the people and government of Jordan.

“In light of our commitment to the peace treaty, Israel has already shared with Jordan the results of its preliminary investigation of the incident.

“Israel has also agreed to a Jordanian request to establish a joint Israeli-Jordanian team to complete the investigation.”

Rage in Jordan grows over judge’s killing

Eyewitness describes skirmish with soldiers that resulted in shooting.

By Jack Khoury, Haaretz
March 13, 2014

Palestinian human rights groups have started collecting as many eyewitnesses as possible regarding the incident in which a Jordanian judge was shot to death on the Israeli side of the Allenby Bridge crossing Monday.

The circumstances of the fatal shooting remain unclear.

According to testimony by a Palestinian woman from Hebron who was on the bus, obtained by Haaretz, the bus crossed the border or the river and arrived at the Israeli checkpoint. According to procedures, all the passengers alight from the bus and leave their belongings on it, and then a soldier gets on and makes a preliminary check.

At this point the woman took her children to the adjacent bathroom and returned after a few minutes. She said she saw the judge smoking a cigarette. According to her a soldier asked him to get back on the bus saying they were running late, but he insisted on finishing his cigarette. The soldier asked him again and he refused again. An argument broke out when the soldier pushed him to get on the bus. He then pushed the soldier, and the soldier pushed him back. Another soldier at the position pulled out his weapon and pointed it at the judge, and a fight broke out between the two of them. Then one of the soldiers pushed him to the ground and shot three bullets at him, two of which hit him, she said.

Mohammed Zayad, a resident of Kalkilya who was also on the bus, also attested in a conversation with Haaretz that the judge was sprawled on the ground and no one hurried to assist him.

“There was a big eruption in the place. The judge’s body was lying on the asphalt for several minutes until a Magen David Adom team arrived and pronounced him dead, and his body was covered,” he said.

The two eyewitness accounts categorically reject the claim that the judge tried to snatch a weapon or shouted “Allah is great” before he was shot and killed. Zayad said that before they reached the Israeli checkpoint the judge acted normally, and he did not look nervous or behave in a strange way.

At the Palestinian center for human rights in Ramallah, it was reported that immediately after the incident the soldiers removed all the passengers again, and conducted a thorough inspection and investigated the passengers if they knew the judge.

One of the remaining open questions is the reason he decided to travel to the West Bank, because his father Ala Adin Zaeter said that he had parted from him the same morning at the entrance of the hospital in Amman where the judge’s 5-year-old son was hospitalized in very serious condition. According to the family, they think he sought to go to Nablus to raise money for his son to be treated abroad, as he felt his son’s life was in imminent danger and was seeking any way to save him.

An atmosphere of rage and anger in Jordan grew over the past two days, even after Israel’s official apology and expression of regret. The Jordanian parliament held two emergency sessions regarding the incident, giving the government a five-day extension to carry out its decisions, mainly to recall the Jordanian ambassador and to release the prisoner Ahmed Akasma, who carried out the 1997 attack at Naharayim, killing seven Israeli schoolchildren. He is serving a life sentence.

Jordanian government sources said it will not take any steps until it receives a copy of the report on the investigation by the joint committee set up between the two countries.

Hundreds of lawyers protested, while protests went on at university campuses around Jordan. The lawyers demanded the government take operative steps against Israel and not suffice with condemnations. Some called on reneging on the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, and expelling the Israeli ambassador.

Jordanian parliamentary factions threatened to submit a vote of no-confidence if their demands were not met. The Jordanian council of judges issued a sharp statement, demanding that the Israeli government investigates the incident in an independent and transparent manner, and to quickly reach the truth and guarantee the family’s rights.

The story also became the main subject of social networks in Jordan, and criticism reached the royal palace. Some appealed to King Abdullah, demanding he take a position in wake of the incident and make decisions in line with public opinion in the country.

See also Aid workers treated as security threat by border guards

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