Exclusive: “They murdered my son in cold blood” grieving father of Judge Raed Zeiter declares
Witness accounts contradict claims by Israel and demand stronger response from Jordanian Government
By Ali Younes
In an exclusive interview with the Arab Daily News, the father of Raed Zeiter said his son was murdered by Israeli soldiers on March 10 for no justification while crossing the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge Crossing.
Retired Jordanian Supreme Court Justice Alaedinne Zeiter said his son, Raed Zeiter, had spent time at the bedside of his 5 year old son, Alaedinne, who is in a coma in an Amman hospital. Raed Zeiter was traveling to Nablus to collect funds to help his son’s medical condition.
“He was going to Nablus to get funds to pay for his son’s hospital costs and medical treatment. He was trying to help his son,” Retired Justice Alaeddine Zeiter said during a telephone interview from his home in Amman, Jordan.
The victim’s father quoted firsthand accounts from witnesses who accompanied Raed Zeiter across the border and who rode on the same bus in detailing that he was shot five times in an unprovoked incident that has now left Raed Zeiter’s two children, his comatose son Alaedinne, and Samma, who turns 2 years old today March 23, without a father.
Retired Judge Alaedinne Zeiter’s interview provides new details that contradict assertions by Israel that Raed Zeiter had attempted to take a weapon from a soldier and had acted like a “terrorist,” and that have been left out of many Western News Media reports of the slaying.
Israeli officials claimed that Raed Zeiter, 38, a Jordanian Judge of Palestinian heritage, was crossing the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge on March 10 when he attacked an armed Israeli soldier who defended himself. The Israelis claim called Raed Zeiter as “terrorist” and said he tried to grab an Israeli soldier’s weapon when they got into an argument. The Israeli soldier, Israeli officials assert, who was merely “defending himself” against a “terrorist.”
The father said he was outraged by the Israeli claims that his son was a “terrorist” or had provoked the violence.
His claims raise questions about Israel’s claims, and also assertions that Israel’s sophisticated video surveillance system that monitors the crossing and all activities of the civilians at the Allenby Bridge were not operating at the time Raed Zeiter was killed.
But Zeiter’s father said numerous witnesses, including a man who accompanied his son when he was taken off the bus by Israeli soldiers, provided firsthand, detailed information about the gruesome, cold-blooded killing.
Retired Judge Zeiter said witnesses told him his son got into an argument with one of the soldiers after his son was pushed to the ground, and then striking his head on the bus. Then, as he was on the ground, an Israeli sniper at a tower nearby overlooking the Israeli controlled crossing, fired his weapon and hit Raed Zeiter in the leg. While he was down on the ground, injured and wounded, the father said, other Israeli soldiers started shooting, killing the unarmed Raed Zeiter while he was wounded on the ground.
“My son was shot by a sniper, then shot five times at point blank range, execution style while laying on the ground,” retired Judge Alaedinne Zeiter said.
Raed Zeiter has two children, his father said, Alaedinne and an infant daughter, Samma, whose second birthday is today (March 23).
“They killed my son for no reason, he was unarmed, he was a judge, how can they shoot an unarmed man with total disregard to human life. We are devastated. They ruined my family forever. They killed my only son, and the Israelis have orphaned his two little children.”
Zeiter’s father said a key witness was a passenger who initially was taken off the bus with his son by Israeli soldiers.
The witness told the family that he was “so horrified seeing the manner in which Raed Zeiter was killed.
Retired Justice Zeiter said that His Majesty King Abdullah II “visited with us and expressed his condolences to our family. He promised us that the Government of Jordan will follow up on this case after the conclusion of the investigation and he will bring them justice. His Majesty King Abdullah told me that “our rights will be upheld, but we have to wait for the investigation to conclude.”
Retired Justice Zeiter also said that he also received visits from other Jordanian officials, including by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, who “all promised the same thing.”
Raed’s father said his grandson, 5 year old Alaedinne, suffers from a “bronchial asthma.” He had choked while drinking milk at home and was aspirated. But the incident triggered a severe Asthma attack that dropped the oxygen levels going to his brain.
The sever drop in oxygen levels resulted in an anoxic-brain injury that caused the 5 year old to collapse into a coma. While his son laid in a coma in a hospital bed in Amman, which he still is to this day, Raed Zeiter decided to travel to Nablus where his family owns property to get some money to help pay the medical expenses. He was killed by the Israeli soldiers before he could ever reach his destination.
The father told us that when he and his wife were notified that their son was killed by Israeli soldiers, they rushed to go down to retrieve his son’s body and accord it a proper burial in Nablus. When asked if the Jordanian government offered to help by sending a delegation or officials to accompany him and his wife in this trip, he said “No. They just let us go through the VIP lanes on the Jordanian side of the bridge.”
The lack of response to help the family seemed ironic and weak, especially in the wake of the Jordanian government’s strong pronouncements condemning the killing of Raed Zeiter. The Jordanian Government failed to offer the bewildered family any kind of support or to make an effort to accompany them into the West Bank.
Once on the Israeli side of the bridge, however, they were forced to wait for four hours then were interrogated by the Israeli security before they were allowed to bury their son. In the wake of this news, The Royal Hashemite Court has decided to cover all the medical bills associated with the treatment of Raed’s 5 year old son, Alaedinne Zeiter.
The Medical Examiner’s report in Nablus states that Raed Zeiter was shot five times, in the legs, thigh and in the abdomen.
When asked if believes an investigation will show the truth about the killing, retired Judge Zeiter said, “The Israelis can never be trusted. They have cameras. They can show what really happened, if they wanted to.”
Justice Alaedinne Zeiter retired from the Jordanian Supreme Court after serving forty of years with distinction and honor in the Jordanian judicial branch. Raed Zeiter followed in his father’s footsteps. The Zeiter family, which hails from the Palestinian city of Nablus in the Israeli Military Occupied West Bank, is one of the most prominent families in Jordan and the West Bank. Akram Zeiter, a cousin, served in the 1970s as Jordan’s Foreign Minister, then Ambassador and later as a member of the Jordanian Senate.
The victim, Judge Raed Zeiter, was born in Amman in 1976. His father said he graduated from the National Orthodox high School and then went to the University of Jordan where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s degrees in law. He later graduated from Amman Arab University with a PH.D in law, in 2009, and was appointed to the Royal Court of Jordan in 2012.
Sari Zeiter, a cousin of the murdered judge, told The Arab Daily News from Amman that he couldn’t believe what happened to his cousin when he was first heard it.
“Raed was one of the best men you will ever meet,” Sari Zeiter said. “He was very quiet, very ethical and have high moral standards. He was never involved in any troubles. What is so strange about this whole thing is that I knew that Raed, and he could never be easily provoked. He was always very polite and very professional.”
Samer Abdul Hadi, a long time Jordanian attorney and a close friend of Raed Zeiter, said he was shocked over the killing of his best friend of many years.
“Raed, was very civilized and very polite individual. I cannot believe that they murdered him in cold blood like that and then claim that he was threatening their lives,” Samer Abdul Hadi said during a a telephone interview from Amman. “It is obvious that Israeli soldiers can kill and shoot any Jordanian or Palestinian or Arab and they think they can get away with it.”
“Raed was a role model in his moral values, ethics and calm demeanor, it is impossible to believe what the Israelis have said about him,” another close friend said.
A Facebook fan page demanding the truth in the Raed Zeiter killing has been set up. Click here to visit the page.
Photos courtesy of Maan News Network.
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