Palestinian suspect in Israeli teen’s murder to be indicted in coming days

Court agrees to extend detention of Arafat Irfaiya, who authorities are seeking to hit with terror charge over killing of Ori Ansbacher

Arafat Irfaiya, alleged killer of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher, at the Jerusalem Magistrate's court on February 20, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Arafat Irfaiya, alleged killer of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher, at the Jerusalem Magistrate's court on February 20, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

State prosecutors declared Sunday that they intend to indict a Palestinian man suspected of the brutal rape and murder of an Israeli teenage girl.

Arafat Irfaiya, a 29-year-old resident of Hebron in the West Bank, has been held in custody since his arrest in Ramallah last month over the murder of Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem.

He was brought Sunday to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, where a judge agreed to extend his detention until March 7 and prosecutors said they intend to file charges in the coming days.

Authorities are seeking to prosecute Irfaiya for murder in the context of a terrorist act, in addition to a charge of rape.

According to a Channel 12 news report on Saturday, Irfaiya told investigators that he did not plan much of the attack in advance aside from purchasing a kippa so that he could slip into Israel undetected.

“I bought the skullcap two weeks before, so I could enter Israel without being suspected or identified as an illegal resident,” Arafat Irfaiya reportedly told investigators, adding that he did not tell anyone of his plans in advance.

“I left my home to kill a Jew due to the occupation and treatment of Arabs at checkpoints,” he reportedly told investigators.

Ori Ansbacher, who was murdered in Jerusalem February 7, 2019 (Courtesy)

According to the report, Irfaiya told investigators he encountered Ansbacher, 19, by chance in a forested area close to Jerusalem, where she was sitting on a rock, writing in a notebook, and decided he would have sex with her “whether she agreed to it, or not.”

Irfaiya reportedly said he stabbed Ansbacher three times and dragged her as she tried to resist. He then stabbed her again, before gagging her with her scarf and binding her hands.

The suspect said that after the attack, he took Ansbacher’s cellphone and destroyed the memory card.

Last month, the Shin Bet security service announced that the murder was a terror attack, saying Irfaiya reenacted the murder of Ansbacher in front of interrogators and “implicated himself definitively in the incident.”

The suspect reportedly told interrogators that he entered Israel and looked for a Jewish victim because he wanted to be a “martyr.”

“I entered Israel with a knife because I wanted to become a martyr and murder a Jew,” he reportedly said. “I met the girl by chance.”

Irfaiya said that after he crossed the Green Line he sprinted to avoid detection by security cameras.

Security forces at the scene where the body of Ori Ansbacher, 19, was found in Ein Yael forest in Jerusalem, February 7, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A spokesman for the Shin Bet previously 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 he is affiliated with Hamas, though neither the terror group nor others have claimed responsibility for the attack due to the rape charge.

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.”

The case sparked outrage across the country and prompted the government to approve implementing a law under which Israel would deduct from tax revenues it collects on behalf of Palestinians the amount that the Palestinian Authority pays out to Palestinian attackers and their families.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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