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Israel responsible for killing of judge — PM

By Khaled Neimat , Agencies - Mar 11,2014 - Last updated at Mar 11,2014

AMMAN/OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Tuesday said that the Israeli government was “completely” responsible for the “hideous” shooting of a Jordanian judge at the border crossing between the Kingdom and the West Bank.

“The Jordanian government holds the Israeli government completely responsible for the hideous crime,” Ensour told MPs at a meeting in Parliament to discuss the shooting that took place on Monday.

He insisted “the Israeli government’s excuses do not justify that treacherous act.” 

The Israeli military claimed troops opened fire after Raed Zuaiter attacked them and tried to steal one of their weapons.

But a Bethlehem-based eye witness who was a few metres away from the 38-year-old judge when he was shot and killed at close range refuted the Israeli account, noting that Zuaiter reacted to the humiliating treatment and pushed back an Israeli soldier before he received three bullets to his chest from him and another soldier (See separate story).

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights also disputed the Israeli account, saying that one of the soldiers pushed Zuaiter after he had disembarked from a bus with other passengers so that Israeli soldiers could search it.

Israel expressed “regret” Tuesday over the death of Zuaiter, but did not apologise.

“Israel regrets the death of Judge Raed Zuaiter yesterday at the [King Hussein] Bridge and expresses its sympathies to the people and government of Jordan,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Jordan demanded that the soldiers involved be punished.

“After investigations, tough measures should be taken against those responsible for the shooting,” Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani told Jordan Television. 

“We are talking about an unarmed Jordanian civilian being killed on the other side of the border. All Jordanians are angry and have the right to know what happened,” he said.

Ensour told deputies that the Kingdom has pressured Israel to “formally apologise”, adding that Jordan is now part of the probe into the shooting.

“The way Jordan will deal with the development of this issue depends on how Israel acts on it in line with the final results of the investigation.”

Israel’s Haaretz and Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli government also agreed to a joint Jordanian-Israeli investigation. 

The Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires a day earlier in Amman to protest the shooting of Zuaiter and ask for an immediate investigation into the incident.

The government started its own investigation Tuesday.

Amman Attorney General Judge Ziad Dmour on Tuesday asked Prosecutor General Judge Abdullah Abu Ghanam to immediately open an investigation into the shooting of Zuaiter during his private visit to the Palestinian territories. 

Meanwhile, Judicial Council President Hisham Tal condemned the crime and said the council is following up on the issue with the government and the Palestinian authorities, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

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