Raed Zuaiter, a 38 year-old Palestinian judge residing in Jordan was returning home to Palestine on March 10, 2014. While crossing at the Allenby Bridge border into the West Bank, he was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier. Published accounts of the incident first characterized Dr. Zuaiter – he had a doctorate in International Law – as a “terrorist” who threatened Israeli security personnel.
Soon after the initial blame the victim narrative was released, the “terrorist” descriptor was dropped and Israel issued its “regrets”.
The shooting – and killing – of unarmed Palestinians by Israeli soldiers has recently garnered wide-spread and much-needed international attention. Raed Zuaiter’s death took place during a particularly violent week. The New Internationalist reported that 6 Palestinians (including Dr. Zuaiter) were killed that week alone.
Focusing on a broader time-frame, Amnesty International released it’s report, “Trigger Happy: Israel’s Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank” in February of this year. AI documented the death of 22 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank last year, in what was described as a ” harrowing patterns of unlawful killings” by Israeli forces.
An investigation by the independent Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq describes in detail the killing of the judge – going so far as to echo Amnesty’s report, in concluding that the IDF “intended” to kill the unarmed and innocent Dr. Zuaiter.
While journalists can file emotionally detached reports, the enormous tragedy of living life under occupation is searingly portrayed by this eye-witness account. Sadly for the young Palestinian woman who shares her hideous experience, these traumatic occurrences happen far too frequently.
I was planting olive trees in Palestine last month as a way of both expressing solidarity with the Palestinian farmers and landowners, and to lower the likelihood of settler and IDF-mediated violence. The idea is that camera-toting internationals deter occupation forces from aggressing against Palestinians working in their fields. Astoundingly, troops in jeeps and full military gear appeared at each field within ten minutes of our arrival. Some days went smoothly. Others proved more challenging.
Earlier today, I received an email forwarded to me from a British member of our olive tree planting group. The email is written by one of two Palestinian women who had stayed in London last week as part of a cultural exchange mission. The email describes the ordeal upon returning to the West Bank. The shocking reality of military occupation is told in the heart-breaking way that only a local eye-witness can.
Here is how she experienced events at the border crossing on that March 10, 2014:
First of all I’d like to thank all this kind people who gave me the chance to represent my community from Sawahra/ Palestine & special thanks for my British friends who hosted me & my colleges generously at their homes during our visit to the UK, I really felt like I was with my family which support us as a Palestinian women & increases our determination to keep struggling towards our rights of freedom, but unfortunately that nice dream where we live in peace & safety for 10 memorable days ended up with KILLING & BLOOD, in our way back to Palestine it was about 8:30am when we were passing the first check point before we move into the Israeli borders, everything was going as normal ( the security check) that we used to face every time we return back to Palestine, until I heard the people screaming (Ohhhh God he killed him)I stand up in the bus horrified & I saw a humanness [ I assume she means “inhuman”]
Israeli guard pointing his gun against poor Palestinian man in his 38th years, & his only guilt to be killed was just because he told the Israeli soldier do not insult me, he was just smoking out the bus & the soldier pushed him cruelly so once he said no for that he killed him as if he is killing an animal , I saw his hand it didn’t shake at all while he was killing that poor man with out any mercy, who is the only son for his family & who didn’t enter Palestine for 3 years ago to return on that day Monday 10th Mar killed on the hands of those who never been humans, after all that they pulled him on the ground from his legs away & they ignored him for more than half an hour they left him bleeding with the blood almost covered all his body till he left the life.
what is killing me is that we all were not capable of doing nothing, he was breathing but, even we were not allowed to cry, after that they covered his body as if nothing happened & we were arrested for more than 2 hours standing on our legs under the sun, no bathrooms no phones no passports or ids, even money, there was children who started crying of being hungry. there were pregnant womens & they even didn’t care, they forced us to leave our belongings in the bus & suddenly we found dogs & hundreds of male guards surrounded us with their guns, for unknown reason they killed the poor man & they insulted us as well with no guilt.
after 4hours of being arrested under the sun they asked us to move our bags from that bus to another by ourself, then they told in silly way that they will bomb that criminals bags as they claimed so no need to fear. finally they moved us to the investigating hall where we spent more 5 hours wishing to investigate each person individually. I cried lots it was like you are watching a horror movie. then I passed the body check they asked me to take off my hijab. then once I entered the investigator room after long hours of sticking on chair waiting, he took my personal information & he asked me in silly way, “what did you see” where was your seat in the bus” who was setting next to that criminal in the bus” what did the people say????? This is the real injustice where the Palestinian people face always, once I returned home I was shocked & I said none just crying for the whole night for our conditions.
I just want you all my dears to spread this email as much as u can to let the whole world understand the reality of those killers , to decide who injustice who in Palestine & how.
Thanks for everything, WS
And our Governments support this barbarity unconditionally?