Jordan Sends Strongly-worded Message to Israel After Shooting Death of Judge

Raed Zueter, 38, a judge from Amman, shot and killed after reportedly trying to snatch a weapon from an Israeli soldier at Allenby crossing; in separate incident, Palestinian shot near Beit El.

Jordanian protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, on Monday night and the Jordanian government sent a sharply-worded statement to its Israeli counterpart, following the killing of a Jordanian judge at the Allenby border crossing earlier in the day.

The judge, Raed Zueter, 38, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers at the border crossing after reportedly trying to seize the rifle of one of the soldiers.

The Israel Defense Forces said that the soldier, a member of the IDF Engineering Corps, opened fire on the man after he tried to attack him and steal his rifle. The border crossing was closed after the incident.

A Jordanian source said that Zueter had arrived at the Israeli side of the crossing and was shot after an argument with soldiers.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the security cameras at the crossing had not been activated, contrary to the rules at the site. It is not yet clear whether the malfunction was isolated to Monday, or if the cameras had been deactivated for some time.

Jordanian security forces beefed up their security around the embassy to prevent any attempt by the several dozen protesters to burst in. As the protest grew, the Israeli Foreign Ministry ordered all Israeli diplomats, including those who had already returned home, to take refuge in the embassy, so as to better ensure their security under one roof.

The demonstration began to wind down at about 9 P.M. and the Israeli diplomats returned to their homes.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh summoned Israel’s charge d’affaires in Jordan and strongly condemned the incident, according to the Jordanian news agency Petra.

The Jordanian government demanded that Israel immediately investigate the incident, Petra reported, and asked the Israeli diplomat to “immediately inform his government that the Jordanian government is expecting a quick and detailed report and expects that an in-depth investigation will be undertaken in which full details will be provided to the government of Jordan.”

The Jordanian Lawyers association also published a statement sharply condemning the incident and demanding that it be fully investigated.

Raed Zueter was born in Nablus and transferred to Jordan about three years ago, where he worked as a magistrate’s court judge in north Amman.

Speaking to Haaretz, Zueter’s brother said that the family had not been given any details about the incident and that what had been published sounded illogical. His brother, he said, had a doctorate in law and was married with two children.

“The whole story sounds bizarre; that a man like that would attempt to snatch a rifle said another relative living in Nablus. “I hope that someone will look deeply into what happened.”

Zueter’s parents arrived in Nablus yesterday afternoon from Amman to participate in the funeral, which is expected to take place on Tuesday afternoon. His father Ala Idan Zueter, an attorney, told reporters in Amman that he had received conflicting versions about what happened. He had been with his son on Monday morning, he said, and there had been no indication that Raed Zueter intended to go to the crossing or the West Bank.

The Zueter family is one of the oldest in Nablus and considered to be among the Palestinian elite.

Shootings at the Allenby crossing on the West Bank-Jordan border are rare. Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement 20 years ago and have close security ties.

The 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 it is a crossing point for goods between Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

Foreign diplomats and tourists also travel through the border crossing, though Israelis are not permitted to use it. 

In a separate incident on Monday, a Palestinian was shot dead by IDF forces near the West Bank settlement of Beit El, apparently after hurling rocks in the area.

AFP