Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Israel kills 6 Palestinians in 24 hours, Netanyahu apologizes for death of judge from Amman
Judges, lawyers and activists demonstrate inside the Justice Palace in Amman on Tuesday to protest the killing of Jordanian judge Raed Zuaiter by Israeli soldiers on King Hussein Bridge on Monday (Photo by Hassan Tamimi).
Israel issued a formal letter of regret on Tuesday over the killing of Jordanian judge Raed Zuayter by Israeli soldiers at the Allenby crossing. In a rare move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement expressing "regret" for Zuayter's death and sending "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. The joint team will commence its work promptly," the statement said.
The statement was issued after marathon talks over the last 24 hours between the prime minister's envoy Isaac Molho and senior Jordanian government officials intended to prevent any escalation.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh summoned Israel’s charge d’affaires in Jordan on Monday to strongly condemned the incident and demand Israel immediately investigate it, according to the Jordanian news agency Petra.
The Jordanian judge who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on Monday on the King Hussein Bridge crossing did not try to seize the gun of a soldier as Israelis claim, an eyewitness at the scene said Tuesday.
The Israeli army stated after the killing that the ''the terrorist'' (= the judge) attacked a soldier with an iron rod while crying ''Alalahu akbar'' and tried to grab his gun. The soldiers after that shot at his legs, according to the statement. The next thing was that they again opened fire after the ''suspect (=the judge) tried to strangle a soldier.
However, Mohammad Sharif Zaid told The Jordan Times over the phone from Bethlehem, that he was standing just metres away from Raed Zuaiter, a judge at Amman First Instance court, when the incident took place.
He explained that the incident happened after Israeli forces carried out a search of passengers of the bus that was carrying them to the West Bank. As most passengers went on board except for three, including the judge, the witness and a young Palestinian woman, an Israeli occupation soldier moved towards the bus and pushed the judge, Zaid said.
“The judge and the soldiers had a verbal argument at the entrance of the inspection room,” the witness continued, elaborating that another soldier pushed 38-year-old Zuaiter again, causing him to fall on the ground.
He stood up and pushed the soldier “in a dignity reaction” but a soldier pointed the gun towards him and shot a bullet that missed him.
Afterwards, Zaid recalled that the soldier fired again fired shooting Zuaiter in the chest as another soldier followed with two other bullets also shot from another soldier penetrating his body.
Asked if Zuaiter attempted to seize the weapon of the Israeli soldier, the witness said it did not happen.
“It is not true that he tried to take the gun of the soldier,” he added.
“Passengers were shocked and started crying and screaming,” the witness said, adding that the incident took place at around 8:00am.
According to Zaid, tens of Israeli soldiers surrounded the bus to prevent passengers from getting off, while the judge was still bleeding. First aid medics arrived at the scene nearly half an hour later and tried to perform CPR for the judge but he was already dead, the witness said.
Later on, according to Zaid, investigators arrived and started interrogating passengers individually.
“Do you know this person or do you have any relationship with him? they asked me and others,” he noted, adding that the investigators asked the passengers to tell what happened from the beginning. The investigators asked about the content of Zuaiter’s luggage and then decided to have it destroyed with explosives without checking its content.
Zaid indicated that the bus was allowed to leave into the West bank at 2:00pm.
The judge was only one of six persons that the Israelis killed on Monday and Tuesday. Monday evening soldiers killed the 18-year old Saji Darwish, a student in journalism at the Bir Zeit university, from the village of Bitein just north of Ramallah. He was shot in the head when he returned from feeding his goats. The Israeli army claimed he took part in stone throwing at vehicles on Isael's road nr 60, what residents of the village denied.
On Tuesday a man from Tulkarem died when his car turend over after Israeli military shot at his car during a chase.
Later that day three fighters from Islamic Jihad were killed by an air strike in the Gaza Strip east of Khan Younis, after they had fired a mortar at invading Israeli troops.