Palestinian suspect in teen murder ‘bought yarmulke to enter Israel undetected’

Palestinian suspect in teen murder ‘bought yarmulke to enter Israel undetected’

Arafat Irfaiya, who admitted to killing 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, reportedly told investigators he planned attack ‘in revenge for occupation, treatment of Arabs at checkpoints’

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

The Palestinian man suspected of brutally murdering teen Ori Ansbacher last month told investigators that he did not plan much of the attack in advance aside from purchasing a yarmulke so he could slip into Israel undetected, Channel 12 news reported Saturday.

“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 else 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.

According to the report, Irfaiya told investigators he met 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.”

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

Irfaiya reportedly said he stabbed Ansbacher three times and dragged her as she tried to resist. He then stabbed her further, 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.

Irfaiya, a 29-year-old Hebron resident, was arrested on February 8 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday extended by his remand by five days.

Authorities say they are seeking to prosecute Irfaiya for murder in the context of a terrorist act, in addition to a charge of rape, but have yet to formally file charges.

It was Irfaiya’s third remand after the court last month ordered him detained for eight days. At the time police said they needed more time to complete the investigation, especially to examine forensic evidence.

Earlier this month, the Shin Bet security service announced that the murder was a terror attack, saying Irfaiya re-enacted 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.”

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

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

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 the suspect 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.”

Additional details regarding the probe remain under gag order.

The case has 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.

The security cabinet approved withholding NIS 502,697,000 ($138 million) from a year’s worth of taxes that Israel collects on goods arriving at Israeli ports. In response, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared he would refuse to accept all tax revenues from Israel, estimated to be around NIS 803,282,580 ($222 million), a measure which could lead to the collapse of the PA which administers the Palestinian territories.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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