Murder suspect shot as he arrives at PA's Hebron Court

Palestinian man shot before trial by fleeing gunman; PA police arrest Kalkilya university student who claimed, on Facebook, to be God.

By
November 8, 2010 06:50
3 minute read.
Hebron

311_cave of patriarchs. (photo credit: Stock photo.)

A Palestinian man was shot to death on Sunday morning in front of the Hebron Magistrate’s Court, in the first case of its kind in many years.

He was identified as Ayman Rajabi, 23, of Hebron. He had been detained by Palestinian Authority security forces a few months ago on suspicion of involvement in the killing of a Hebron man from a rival family.

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Sunday’s shooting was reminiscent of the anarchy that prevailed during the first years of the second intifada. In 2002, for instance, a mob stormed into a PA courtroom in Jenin and shot dead three defendants shortly after they were convicted of murder.

An eyewitness told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that a handcuffed Rajabi had arrived at the court escorted by a large number of Palestinian policemen.

“As soon as the detainee was brought out of the vehicle, a masked man opened fire at him from a short distance,” the eyewitness said. “It happened so quickly that the policemen didn’t even have time to respond.”

Rajabi was hit by at least five bullets, one of which penetrated his heart, a PA security officer announced. He was rushed to the city’s Ahli Hospital, where he died, the officer said.

The shooter fled in a waiting car, another eyewitness told the Post. He claimed that the car sped off toward Israeli-controlled territory in the Hebron area.

“Some policemen succeeded in writing down the license plates of the car,” the eyewitness said. “The incident caught the policemen at the court by surprise and most of them seemed to be confused.”

Following the killing, the victim’s family attacked homes belonging to the rival clan, triggering exchanges of gunfire in parts of Hebron.

The PA deployed dozens of policemen and security officers in several neighborhoods to prevent further acts of vengeance.

The incident is seen as a serious embarrassment for the government of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, which has made tremendous efforts over the past few years to restore law and order to communities under its control.

Judge Mohammed Hashish, president of the Hebron Magistrate’s Court, said that Rajabi was supposed to stand trial for his role in a murder that occurred a year ago.

He said that an initial investigation showed that more than one attacker took part in Sunday’s shooting.

The judge called on the PA government to move the court, saying that its current venue was problematic because of its proximity to Israeli-controlled neighborhoods in Hebron.

“The location of the court enabled the perpetrators to easily escape to the Israeli-controlled part of the city,” he complained.

In a separate case, PA security forces have arrested a university student from Kalkilya who claimed to be God.

The 25-year-old suspect had opened a Facebook account where he identified himself as God, enraging hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the world.

In one of his postings, “God” declared that he was “angry” with his worshipers and criticized Islam, prompting Facebook to delete his account.

A PA security official said that the suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, would be tried in a Palestinian military court.

The official said that the PA security forces were now checking whether the suspect was linked to any foreign individual or group.


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