Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, announced yesterday that the murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher last week was a terrorist attack.
Ansbacher’s body was found on Thursday with multiple stab wounds to her chest in a forest southwest of Jerusalem.
Arafat Irfaiya, a 29-year-old from Hebron, was arrested on Saturday after he was identified as a suspect on the basis of forensic evidence found at the scene. He was arrested near Ramallah in a joint operation by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Shin Bet and the Israel Border Police’s counter-terrorism unit. According to a security source, Irfaiya is affiliated with Hamas. Israel’s Channel 13 News reported that during his interrogation Irfaiya expressed support for Hamas, telling investigators that the Gaza terror group was “defending the Palestinian people with weapons”. On Saturday night, the IDF began mapping the suspect’s home in Hebron ahead of its expected demolition.
The Shin Bet said that Irfaiya re-enacted the murder in front of interrogators demonstrating where he saw Ansbacher sitting on a chair in the woods, sexually assaulted her and then killed her. Details of the investigation are subject to reporting restrictions. The police and Shin Bet were familiar with Irfaiya due to his criminal record. In 2009, he was arrested for possession of a knife and imprisoned for three months, and in 2017 he was arrested for staying in Israel illegally and for possession of a knife, subsequently serving five months in prison.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have so far not commented on the murder.
The attack prompted more calls in Israel for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to end its practice of making payments to convicted terrorists and their families. The Israeli Government is currently working on new measures to deduct these payments from the tax transfers Israel grants to the PA. In his remarks during yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “By the end of the week, the staff work necessary for implementing the law on deducting terrorists’ salaries will be completed. Next Sunday I will convene the Security Cabinet and we will approve the necessary decision to deduct the funds. Let nobody doubt, the funds will be deducted, at the start of next week.”