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Israeli soldiers kill Jordanian judge on crossing bridge

By Muath Freij , Omar Obeidat , Khetam Malkawi , Khaled Neimat , Agencies - Mar 10,2014 - Last updated at Mar 10,2014

AMMAN — Jordan on Monday summoned Israeli charge d’affaires in Amman, protesting the shooting of a Jordanian judge by Israeli soldiers and asked for immediate investigation on the incident.

A Higher Judicial Council source told The Jordan Times that Raed Zuaiter, a judge at the Amman Court of First Instance, was killed at the Jordan River crossing point on Monday morning.

The source, who asked to remain unnamed, said that Zuaiter, 38, was not on leave and was expected at the office as usual Monday.

However, he noted that the Jordanian embassy in Israel is following up on the issue with Israeli authorities.

 

This was also confirmed by his father, Ala-Eddine Zuaiter, a former judge, who noted that he had no idea that his son was crossing border.

Despite several attempts by The Jordan Times to contact the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv, officials were not available to comment.

“I have no further information,” the father told The Jordan Times.

Reuters reported that the Israeli military said the man had tried to seize a soldier’s gun at the King Hussein Bridge — known to Israelis as Allenby Bridge — which spans the Jordan River, and that troops had then shot him.

 

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Judeh denounced the incident and informed the Israeli charge d’affaires in Amman that the government of Jordan expects a report about the incident and asked for an immediate investigation, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah condemned what it called the “shooting at close range” by Israeli troops. It demanded an investigation, as did Jordan.

Meanwhile, dozens of Jordanians gathered “spontaneously” near the Israeli embassy to protest the shooting and demand tough measures by the government.

Apparently, the gathering came as a response to social media calls, with some encouraging “attacking” the embassy building.

Some of the protesters tried to approach the embassy premises but they were barred by the Gendarmerie Forces, who arrested at least four people, including a woman, according to activists.

The protesters, who represented average people, along with political parties, chanted slogans demanding the cancellation of the peace treaty and closing down Israel’s diplomatic mission. 

Professional associations also condemned this action, including the Jordan Engineers Association and the Jordan Bar Association.   

 

Parliament ‘angry’

 

MPs on Monday expressed anger over the killing of Zuaiter, blaming Israel for the “heinous crime”.

The Palestine Committee in the Lower House issued on Monday a statement in which it condemned the incident, demanding the abolishment of the peace treaty with Israel and encouraged the government to expel the Israeli ambassador in Amman and call back the Jordanian envoy in Tel Aviv.

The committee recalled its previous decision when Israeli Knesset was trying to discuss a petition to deny Jordan’s right as custodian of the Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem. 

The House Rights and Freedoms Committee chairperson, Rula Hroub, condemned, in a statement carried by Petra, the violent, illegal act targeting a Jordanian civilian. She also expressed her condolences to the Zuaiter family. 

Also on Monday, the Reform Bloc at the Lower House led by MP Mejhem Sqour issued a strongly-worded statement, demanding that the prosecutor general move quickly to file a case against the Israeli army.

In remarks to The Jordan Times, Veteran MP Khalil Atiyeh described the incident as “very serious” and vowed that lawmakers will exert “maximum pressure on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman”.

 

Relatives and friends

 

Relatives and friends of Zuaiter said he was a calm person and never harmed anyone.

Judge Muwafaq Obeidat said he worked with Zuaiter for three years and was respected by his colleagues.

“We also went together to university; he is a man with high morals, and did not harm anyone,” Obeidat said, noting that Zuaiter is an only son.

This was also echoed by Lawyer Samer Mallah, who noted that Zuaiter was one of the most respected judges and his killing was “a shock” for many.

According to his relatives, Zuaiter is a PhD holder in law and has two children; one of them was in hospital the day his father was killed.

One of his cousins told The Jordan Times later in the day that Zuaiter’s parents asked for his burial in Palestine. 

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