JERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers Monday fatally shot a Jordanian judge of Palestinian origin at the Allenby Bridge after the man tried to seize a soldier’s gun and then threatened two soldiers with a metal bar, according to the Israeli military.
It was a rare instance of violence at the bridge, which links Jordan and the West Bank, and heightened tensions not only between Israel and the Palestinians but also between Israel and Jordan, a key player in the Middle East peace process.
The Jordanian foreign minister summoned the ranking Israeli diplomat in Amman, Jordan’s capital, for a reprimand and “strongly condemned” the shooting, demanding to see the results of an Israeli investigation into the episode. The Palestinian Authority called for an international investigation.
The Jordanian Justice Ministry identified the man as Raed Zeiter, 38, a judge in the magistrates court in Amman who had moved to Jordan from the West Bank city of Nablus in 2011.
Col. Yaron Beit-On, who oversees Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley, told reporters that Zeiter came into the West Bank from Jordan on a bus carrying 30 people at about 9:30 a.m. After soldiers completed a routine check of the bus, Beit-On said, Zeiter tried to grab one of their guns and succeeded in obtaining a four-foot metal bar with a mirror at one end that the soldiers use to check the underside of vehicles at the crossing.
“He shouted, ‘Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,’” or “God is great,” Beit-On said. “When the soldiers understood they had no way to handle him, they used a gun and they shot him. They were in danger.”
Palestinian and Jordanian officials questioned the Israeli account, but Beit-On said it was based on interviews with witnesses, including the Jordanian bus driver, “who was a few meters from the event.”
The Allenby Bridge — also known as King Hussein Bridge and Al-Karama Bridge — is the main point of exit for Palestinians who live in the West Bank and is jointly controlled by Israel and Jordan. It was closed for several hours after the shooting.
“We cannot remember what was the last time such an incident occurred,” said Gilad Noll, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Amman. “As far as we know, the attacker didn’t really leave the soldier any other option. The Israeli side has no reason for inflaming up the entire region by this type of incident.”