Following Spate of Army Killings, Palestinian Official Blasts Israeli 'Culture of Violence'

Hanan Ashrawi urges world to take 'punitive' action over 'extrajudicial killings of Palestinian civilians.'

Hanan Ashrawi, an unofficial spokeswoman for the Palestinian Authority, accused Israel on Wednesday of having a "culture of violence." She spoke in response to the spate of what she called the "extrajudicial killing of Palestinian civilians," the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported.

Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said Israel is "bent on demonstrating that it is a rogue state with its repeated war crimes against the Palestinian people and sense of exceptionalism and impunity."

Her statement followed the deaths of five Palestinians at the hands of Israeli soldiers within a 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday.

Raed Zueter, 38, a judge in Jordan, was killed by Israeli soldiers at the Allenby Bridge border crossing in an incident whose circumstances are in dispute, and for which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his "regret" to Jordan.

Saji Darwish, 20, a student at Bir Zeit University, was killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank; the army says he was throwing stones at passing Israeli cars, while local Palestinians say he was tending his goats.

Three Islamic Jihad members were killed in the Gaza Strip when, according to the Israel Defense Forces, they fired mortars at soldiers on routine operations in the Strip.

A sixth Palestinian who died during the period was said by Palestinian sources to have flipped his car while being chased by Israeli soldiers, but the IDF said it did not know of such an incident.

"The Israeli government is undermining the credibility of the 'peace' negotiations which have become a cover for Israel to buy the time needed to change facts on the ground while blatantly provoking the Palestinian leadership to withdraw from the talks," Ashrawi charged. She called on the world to take immediate "punitive" action against Israel.

Her remarks were echoed by Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who said the killings could be the final straw for the tottering peace process.

AP