Tank museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks opens in Jordan

A family looks at a display of tanks at the Royal Tank Museum in Amman, Jordan. (AP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Tank museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks opens in Jordan

AMMAN: A museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks from a century of wars in the Middle East and from more distant conflicts has opened in Jordan.
Curators at the Royal Tank Museum collected armored vehicles over the past decade, including some that served in both sides of the Iran-Iraq war and in the conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the Golan Heights, Jordan and Jerusalem.
Other contributions came from faraway places, such as Azerbaijan, Morocco, Taiwan and Brunei. Most of the museum’s tanks were made in America, reflecting Jordan’s long-running alliance with the US. Some pieces reached Jordan in a particularly roundabout way, including a World War II-era German tank used by the Nazis in North Africa. A swastika-in-palm-tree stencil marks it as one of the German Africa Corps’ fleet of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. The Syrians had bought the tank in the 1950s from Czechoslovakia and deployed it against Israel, then gave it to Jordan in 2009.
“The museum is telling the story of the world through the history of tanks,” said the museum’s General Manager Maher Tarawneh.
The museum, the second in the region after Israel’s Yad La-Shiryon, opened last week.
On a recent morning, hundreds of Jordanians lined up outside to be led through the museum by guides, many of them army veterans.
The 20,000-square-meter space also includes exhibits of historic battles in Syria, Jerusalem and Jordan, with loudspeakers blaring gunfire, roars of diesel engines, and fiery patriotic speeches. Life-size replicas of soldiers staff turrets as tank treads menace intricately crafted shrubs.
Dangling from a massive sky-light is a Cobra attack helicopter, of the type flown by Jordan’s King Abdullah.
The king decreed the creation of the museum in 2007, launching the acquisition process led by chief curator Hamdan Smairan. The retired major general who commanded the Jordan military’s armored corps began by reaching out to his contacts.
The world’s tank museums supported the venture. The Tank Museum in Dorset, England and the Imperial War Museum in London provided curatorial counsel. Museums in the Czech Republic and France exchanged tanks for Jordanian tanks.
An old friend of Smairan’s lobbied South Africa successfully for the museum’s World War II-era British Crusader tank.
Russia and Kazakhstan gave tanks to Jordan’s king who then added them to the collection, the curator said.
Most of the museum’s tanks were made in America, reflecting Jordan’s long-running alliance with the US. Along with World War II-era Sherman and Tiger tanks, there are also Soviet and Chinese models.
The museum also illustrates Jordan’s history.
An armored vehicle used in the revolt rotates on a dais in the museum. It is followed by tank exhibits telling the story of Jordan in subsequent battles, including the Mideast wars of 1967 and 1973.
The museum will eventually open an exhibition field and offer rides on tanks outside on site.


Court doubles sentence of Israeli policeman who killed Palestinian

Updated 19 August 2018
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Court doubles sentence of Israeli policeman who killed Palestinian

JERUSALEM: Israel’s top court on Sunday doubled the prison sentence of a police officer who shot dead a Palestinian teenager in 2014, an incident documented by video footage.
The supreme court ruling said the original nine-month prison term handed to Ben Deri by the Jerusalem district court earlier this year did not sufficiently reflect the severity of his actions.
Deri had admitted to fatally shooting Nadeem Nuwarah, 17, on May 15, 2014 during a day of clashes in Beitunia, south of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters.
The clashes were on the anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when more than 700,000 fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel’s creation.
Footage recorded by US broadcaster CNN captured a group of five or six border police officers in the area, one of whom could be seen firing at the time when the youth was hit.
Some five minutes earlier, Nuwarah was seen on other CNN footage throwing stones at Israeli forces.
But when Deri shot him, he was not engaged in any such action, simply walking in the general direction of Deri’s force with his hands to his sides, the Sunday decision noted.
Deri had said during his trial he had mistakenly introduced live ammunition into his M-16 instead of rubber bullets.
But even the firing of rubber bullets was not justified at that point, the court said.
The April district court sentencing had “not sufficiently given expression to the value of the human life severed by Deri,” Sunday’s ruling read.
“The prison term sentenced by the district court is not close in expressing the severity of such an intentional deed, combined with the severe negligence that caused the deceased’s death,” supreme court justice Noam Solberg wrote in his decision, supported by another judge and opposed by one.
Right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, which represented Deri, said the supreme court’s ruling could “jeopardize the motivation and operational abilities of our soldiers.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that while Deri’s actions might have been wrong, “that doesn’t mean his punishment should be increased.”