Significant breakthrough reported in murder of teen; motive likely nationalistic

TV report says searches being carried out in West Bank for brutal killer of Ori Ansbacher; most details still under gag order

Israeli security forces search the scene where the body of a 19-year-old woman was found in Ein Yael, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, on February 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli security forces search the scene where the body of a 19-year-old woman was found in Ein Yael, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, on February 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Investigators have made a “significant breakthrough” in the investigation of the brutal murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, but have still not apprehended anyone, Israeli TV channels reported Friday.

No further details on the breakthrough, which was reported by both Channel 12 and Channel 13 news, were given, and a gag order remains on most aspects of the investigation.

Ansbacher, a 19-year-old from the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, was found dead Thursday with what police said were “signs of violence” after she was reported missing earlier in the day. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Ansbacher had been killed with “shocking brutality,” and police sources were quoted as saying she had been stabbed multiple times in the upper torso.

Channel 13 said police believe the most likely motive for the killing was “nationalistic” — the term generally used for Palestinian terrorism — and that searches were also being carried out in the West Bank. The TV reports stressed, however, that a criminal motive had not been ruled out, and nor had “a combination of the two” motives.

Her body was found in woodland at Ein Yael, located south of Jerusalem. Ein Yael lies between the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and the West Bank village of Walaja.

Ori Ansbacher (Courtesy)

Earlier, a police officer said investigators were “exploring all possible motives,” as a large number of police and Shin Bet personnel continued to search the area where Ansbacher was found.

Also on Friday, police urged the public to stop spreading “horrific” and baseless rumors on social media surrounding the murder.

“Since the murder that took place yesterday, there have been different publications and reports, especially on social media, regarding the circumstances of the case, including horrific descriptions that are irresponsible,” police said in a rare statement.

“We are clarifying that these publications are baseless and hurt the honor of the victim and her family while misleading the public,” police added.

Police stressed they were doing everything in their power to track the perpetrator(s).

“We call on the public not to spread false rumors or disinformation from unauthorized sources,” police said.

The statement came shortly after Netanyahu’s son Yair published a graphic post on his Facebook page containing what police sources told Channel 12 news were false claims regarding Ansbacher’s murder.

Yair Netanyahu made specific claims about the nature of the murder which police sources said were untrue, and also accused the media of deliberately failing to report aspects of the case. In fact, most information regarding the murder is barred for publication by a gag order.

He later edited the post and removed many of the details but continued to share other posts that included unsubstantiated details of the murder.

The court-imposed gag order on all details of the murder was lifted partially Friday morning to allow identification of the victim.

Friends and family members attend the funeral of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, on February 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ansbacher was buried in Tekoa earlier Friday and politicians from across the political spectrum issued statements of condolence.

Netanyahu issued a statement on the murder, saying Ansbacher was killed “with shocking brutality.”

“At this difficult hour we all embrace the Ansbacher family and the people of Tekoa. The security forces are investigating the murder — we will find those responsible for it, and we will bring the matter to justice,” the prime minister pledged.

She was carrying out a year of national service at a youth center in Jerusalem at the time of her death.

Friends and relatives attend the funeral of Ori Ansbacher, in the Jewish settlement of Tekoa, February 8, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed