Riot police try to control tens of angry Jordanians as they protest in front of the Israeli embassy to demand the deportation of the Israeli ambassador, in Amman yesterday, following the shooting dead by Israeli troops of Palestinian-Jordanian judge Raed Zeiter at the Allenby Bridge crossing.
JERICHO: Israeli troops at a border crossing yesterday shot dead a Palestinian-Jordanian judge who allegedly tried to snatch a soldier’s weapon, prompting Amman and the Palestinian Authority to demand an investigation.
The shooting took place at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, with the Israeli military saying troops had opened fire after a man tried to snatch a weapon from one of its soldiers.
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority sharply condemned the incident and Amman summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires to protest, demanding an “immediate investigation.”
Palestinian security officials identified the man as 38-year-old Raed Zeiter, and Amman confirmed he also held Jordanian nationality. A Jordanian security official said that Zeiter worked as a judge in Amman and had left for the West Bank early yesterday. Jordan’s justice ministry said he worked at a magistrates court in the capital.
Nazmi Muhanna, the Palestinian official responsible for border crossings, said investigators were questioning around 50 people who had been with Zeiter on the bus carrying travellers from the Jordanian side to the Israeli side of the crossing.
“We are investigating with all the witnesses who were on the same bus. We will verify everything,” he said. “There are no surveillance cameras there so we cannot get to the truth without the witnesses who were on that bus.”
Jordan’s foreign minister summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires to “strongly condemn” the shooting at the border crossing and demand an immediate probe, a statement said.
“The Jordanian government is expecting a comprehensive report on the incident from the Israeli government. Jordan wants an immediate investigation without any delay,” a statement quoted Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh as saying.
The Palestinian Authority also strongly condemned the incident and demanded an “international investigation” into the circumstances of Zeiter’s death.
Palestinian security officials said Zeiter was originally from the city of Nablus in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but had left the territories in 2011 and not returned.
Zeiter, who leaves behind a wife and two young children — one of whom is in a coma in hospital — was to be buried in Nablus today morning, his family said.
Around 200 people demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy in Amman, demanding the Jordanian government expel the Israeli ambassador.
“We don’t want a Zionist embassy on Jordanian territory! Down with the peace agreement” between the two countries, they chanted. Zeiter’s father said he was in shock over the shooting.
“My son is peaceful and professional. I am shocked,” 70-year-old Alaa Zeiter, himself a former judge, saidby phone, before breaking down in tears.
Zeiter and his wife left later on Monday to travel to Nablus for his son’s funeral.
The shooting was a rare incident of violence at the crossing, also known as the King Hussein Bridge, which is located in the Jordan Valley, just east of the Palestinian oasis town of Jericho. The terminal was closed after the incident but reopened later, an Israeli official said.
In a separate incident, Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian on a road near Ramallah who had been part of a group throwing stones at soldiers, according to Israeli security sources.
Palestinian sources identified the dead man as Saji Sayel Darwish, 20, and said he had been shot in the head.