Palestinian suspect in brutal rape, murder of teen Ori Ansbacher remanded
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Palestinian suspect in brutal rape, murder of teen Ori Ansbacher remanded

Court orders Arafat Irfaiya kept behind bars for additional 10 days; rape allegation had been under wraps because of gag order

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Arafat Irfaiya, charged with the murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, at the Jerusalem Magistrate's court on February 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Arafat Irfaiya, charged with the murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, at the Jerusalem Magistrate's court on February 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday extended the remand of the Palestinian man suspected of brutally murdering Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher for an additional ten days.

It was the first time Irfaiya appeared before cameras since his Friday arrest in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He had open scabs on his forehead, nose and below his right eye. The suspect appeared to smirk from his seat as photographers flashed their cameras before being ushered out of the courtroom.

Despite a last-minute official appeal from reporters, the judge decided to hold the session behind closed doors. Channel 12 news reported that investigators from the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police hope to indict Arafat Irfaiya, a 29-year-old Hebron resident, for murder in the context of a terrorist act in addition to a charge of rape.

Details regarding the rape charge had previously remained under wraps due to a court-imposed gag order.

On Sunday, the Shin Bet announced that the murder was a nationalistically motivated terror attack. The intelligence agency, which has been running the investigation with assistance from police, had held off on announcing a terror motive, despite proclamations to that effect from right-wing lawmakers and pundits that began shortly after Ansbacher’s body was found in a forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Thursday evening.

The Shin Bet said that Irfaiya reenacted the murder in front of interrogators and “implicated himself definitively in the incident.”

Ori Ansbacher (Courtesy)

In the predawn hours of Sunday morning, the IDF entered Irfaiya’s home in Hebron in order to prepare the structure for demolition.

Citing the suspect’s account under questioning, the Shin Bet said in a statement Saturday night that Irfaiya left his home in Hebron on Thursday armed with a knife and made his way toward Jerusalem, where he spotted Ansbacher in the woods and fatally attacked her.

A spokesman for the Shin Bet said Irfaiya had spent time in prison for security-related offenses and that he had crossed into Israel without a permit before carrying out the murder. Hebrew media reported that the suspect is affiliated with Hamas, though neither the terror group nor others have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Additional details regarding the probe, which has sparked national outrage, remain under gag order.

On Sunday evening, Channel 13 news reported that Irfaiya was arrested in 2017 at the entrance to the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem armed with a large kitchen knife, and had indicated that if released, he would “come back here with a knife.”

He told his interrogators that he ultimately aspired to become a “martyr” or be incarcerated in an Israeli prison, the report said.

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