The military adjutant general announced on Sunday that he had ordered the opening of a Military Police investigation to determine the circumstances leading to the death of Jordanian judge Raed Zueter at the Allenby Bridge crossing three weeks ago.
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The MAG’s office also announced it had ordered Military Police investigations into two other deaths: of Saji Darwish, 18, near Beit El; and of Yosef Abu Akar, 14, who was killed by IDF fire in the southern Hebron Hills.
The opening of the investigations is part of the MAG’s policy since 2011 of investigating every case involving the death of a Palestinian in the West Bank related to IDF actions, if the death was not caused by “substantive combat operations.”
After the incident at the Allenby Bridge crossing on March 10, Military Police investigators arrived at the scene but only documented the scene and photographed the evidence, without opening an official investigation. The decision to open the investigation was made in the past two weeks, but it is unclear whether this was the result of the details uncovered in the preliminary inquiry, or as part of the MAG’s routine investigative policy.
At the same time, the IDF is continuing its own investigation in cooperation with the Defense Ministry. This inquiry, headed by Brig. Gen. Moti Baruch, commander of the 162nd Armored Division, has yet to be concluded, said IDF sources.
Representatives of the IDF’s Planning Directorate, who are responsible for military and defense coordination with Jordan, are working on setting a date to present the findings to the Jordanian army. Baruch is responsible for the overall inquiry, in cooperation with the Shin Bet security service, Israel Police and the Israel Airports Authority, which is in charge of the border crossing where the incident occurred.
A preliminary inquiry was conducted by the commander of the Jordan Valley regional brigade, Col. Yaron Beit-On, after the incident, and his findings are included in Baruch’s inquiry.
The original reports stated that Zueter had tried to snatch a weapon from an Israeli soldier. The IDF said that the soldier opened fire at Zueter after he tried to attack him and steal his rifle, and said he ran toward the Israeli soldier screaming “Allah hu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is great”).
The findings of the preliminary inquiry support the IDF’s version of the events in which a group of soldiers from the Engineering Corps chemical warfare protection battalion opened fire at Zueter according to regulations, said an IDF officer familiar with the details of the inquiry’s findings. The battalion commander told the IDF’s Bamahaneh magazine that his soldiers had “acted as expected from them” and according to regulations.
Zueter was originally from Nablus in the West Bank, but was living in Amman, Jordan. The Zueter family is one of the oldest in Nablus and considered to be among the Palestinian elite.
The Allenby Bridge border terminal is operated jointly by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. It is the main border crossing for Palestinians from the West Bank traveling to neighboring Jordan and beyond, and a crossing point for goods between Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. Foreign diplomats and tourists also travel through the border crossing, but Israelis are not permitted to use the crossing.