Sunday, September 24, 2017

Six killed in less than two days: Israeli actions threaten peace process


By Jan Walraven - March 13, 2014
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Occupation] [Extrajudicial Killing]

In just two days time, six Palestinians were killed across the West Bank and Gaza Strip; some of them in very unclear circumstances. On Monday 10 March, Raed Zeiter, a Palestinian judge working in Jordan, was shot dead at the Allenby Bridge border crossing by Israeli forces. Hours after that, 18-year old Saji Darwish was shot dead by Israeli forces near Ramallah after allegedly throwing stones at vehicles. A day after these two deadly incidents, three Palestinian militants of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike, while Fidaa Majadlah died in a car crash near Tulkarem, supposedly after being chased and shot at by Israeli police.
 
In the cases of Raed Zeiter and Fidaa Majadlah in particular, there seem to be conflicting views on the circumstances of their deaths. The former, a Jordanian judge from Nablus, was shot in the chest three times while crossing into the West Bank from Jordan at the Allenby Bridge. While the Israeli army claims that a "terrorist charged forces with a metal pole while shouting Allah Akbar', and then attempted to seize one soldier’s weapon" before Israeli soldiers shot him, Haaretz reported that Palestinian eyewitnesses stated Zeiter never tried to seize the gun, but in fact was shot during an argument. The conflicting versions of the incident are both based on eyewitness accounts, as security cameras were not operational at the time of the incident, a fact that goes against basic operational procedures at Allenby. 
 
MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta'al) has asked the Israeli army to release video footage of the incident which he believes exists, according to The Jerusalem Post.
 
On Tuesday 11 March, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office in a press statement expressed its regret over the judge's death while also complying with the Jordanian demand to set up a joint investigation. This statement clearly conflicts with the previous statement from the Israeli army which called Zeiter a "terrorist.” Many believe this may be an attempt by Netanyahu to limit the backlash of the killing on Israel's relation with Jordan. After the deadly incident, about 200 Jordanians gathered at the Israeli embassy in Amman to protest.
 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the deadly Israeli violence. In a statement, given to WAFA News Agency on Tuesday 11 March, his spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that these "recent Israeli escalations" would "ruin the already faltering peace process," calling upon international partners to "save the situation.”
 
A day after Zeiter's death, on Tuesday 11 March, Fidaa Majadlah died in a car crash after being chased by Israeli police in Tulkarem. According to Ma'an News Agency, Palestinian security sources stated that Israeli forces fired at the vehicle during the car chase, but that they were not sure if Majadlah was killed from the gunfire or from the crash. An Israeli government official claimed that there was no mention of a car crash, but that Majadlah died in a 'regular' car accident. On Tuesday the body of Majadlah was still in Israeli possession, while Majadlah's passenger, Ibrahim Shukri, was detained by the Israeli police.
 
Trigger happy Israeli forces
 
These killings come just days after global human rights organization Amnesty International’s release of a report entitled, Trigger-happy: Israel's use of excessive force in the West Bank. In the report, Amnesty describes the rising human rights abuses and deadly violence in the West Bank over the past three years as a result of the "Israeli forces’ use of unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians."
 
According to Amnesty International, "Israeli soldiers have repeatedly committed serious human rights and humanitarian law violations, including unlawful killings, in response to Palestinian opposition and protests in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem." The report adds that they do so "effectively with impunity." 
 
In a press release soon after the reports publication, Amnesty stated that in some cases there is evidence that killings have been willful, and thus could amount to war crimes. 

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