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Israeli troops kill Jordanian judge of Palestinian descent at border

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Jordanian judge of Palestinian descent Monday at Allenby Bridge border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, according to statements from the Israeli army and a Palestinian official.

A statement by the Israel Defense Forces said the Jordanian -- identified as Raed Zeiter, 38, originally from the West Bank city of Nablus -- had just crossed the border from Jordan when he attempted to grab a soldier's weapon. The soldier opened fire and killed him.

"A Palestinian tried to seize a soldier's weapon at the Allenby Bridge Crossing from Jordan,” the army tweeted on its account. “In response, IDF forces fired at the suspect."

Jordanian media reports, citing unspecified sources, said Zeiter had grabbed for a metal detector rather than a weapon.

The army closed the crossing for several hours while it was investigating the incident.

A Palestinian Authority representative at the crossings, Nazmi Muhanna, said in a statement that the soldiers shot and killed Zeiter shortly after the judge arrived on the West Bank side of the crossing without giving any further details.

The Palestinian Authority had an official presence at the crossing following the signing of the Oslo accords in 1994 to oversee movement of Palestinians traveling between the West Bank and Jordan. However, Israel terminated that official role after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000.

Jordanian media reports said Zeiter got off the bus that brought him from the Jordanian side of the border along with the rest of the passengers for a routine Israeli army inspection after entering the Israeli-controlled side.

While a soldier was passing a metal detector on Zeiter's body, the latter tried to wrestle the detector from the soldier. Another nearby soldier opened fire at Zeiter, who fell to the ground, before the first soldier shot and killed him.

Zeiter's father, Ala al-Din, was quoted by the Jordanian media as saying that he went to the court in the morning to see his son but was told that the judge had not arrived that morning.

He said he did not know that his son was going to the West Bank until he had heard about the incident.

Zeiter was promoted to be a magistrate court judge only two weeks ago.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh summoned an Israeli Embassy diplomat to discuss the incident as dozens of angry Jordanians chanting “death to Israel” protested outside the embassy in Amman, the Jordanian capital.

The Jordanian parliament called two weeks ago in a non-binding resolution for expelling the Israeli ambassador and closing the embassy over an attempt by Israeli lawmakers to pass a measure that would give Israel sovereignty over Islamic holy places in Jerusalem, currently managed by Jordan.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah strongly condemned the death of Zeiter and called for an international investigation into the shooting.

The incident also comes two weeks after Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian in the West Bank town of Birzeit and two others in the Gaza Strip and after Amnesty International said in a report that Israel uses excessive force with "callous disregard" to Palestinian life in the occupied territories.

Israel turned Zeiter's body over to the Palestinian Authority for burial in his West Bank hometown. The burial will take place on Tuesday after the arrival of his family from Jordan, Palestinian officials said.

Abukhater is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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