Palestinians pay condolence visit to family of slain teen Ori Ansbacher

Activist says he told family, residents of the Tekoa settlement, that Israelis and Palestinians ‘must find a way to live together’

Palestinian and Israeli activists visit the Ansbacher family in Tekoa, February 12, 2019 (Tag Meir)
Palestinian and Israeli activists visit the Ansbacher family in Tekoa, February 12, 2019 (Tag Meir)

A group of Palestinian and Israeli coexistence activists visited the home of an Israeli teen brutally murdered by a Palestinian man last Thursday.

“We believe that the violent path brings nothing but violence,” said Ziyad Sabatin, of the southern West Bank town of Husan, outside the home of the Ansbacher family in the settlement of Tekoa.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said that the suspected killer, Arafat Irfaiya, 29, left his home in Hebron on Thursday armed with a knife and made his way toward Jerusalem, where he spotted Ori Ansbacher, 19, in a forested part of the city. He then raped and murdered her. The Shin Bet defined the killing as an act of terrorism.

“There’s no religion in the world that supports this kind of act,” Sabatin said Tuesday in a radio interview with the Israeli station 103FM during his visit to the Ansbacher home.

The murder shocked Israelis, and led right-wing politicians to call for the enactment of a death penalty for terrorists. Shortly after the murder, at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to implement a law passed last July that gave the government the power to deduct funds from tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority equal to the amount of money the PA spends on stipends and grants for incarcerated Palestinian terrorists, terror suspects and the families of Palestinians killed while attacking Israelis.

Ori Ansbacher (Courtesy)

Asked by the radio interviewer what prompted him to carry out the condolence visit, Sabatin noted that Israeli friends had accompanied him on a condolence visit in Ramallah to the family of Aisha Rabi, a Palestinian mother of eight killed in a rock-throwing attack in the West Bank in October by a suspected Jewish terrorist.

“We went there to pay condolences together with Israeli friends, and we came to console here today,” he said.

He was among a group of roughly a dozen Palestinian peace activists who wished to console the Ansbacher family, he said. Asked why Israelis don’t often hear about Palestinians who care about Israeli dead, he blamed the media.

“The interest of journalists is to find where there’s violence,” Sabatin said. “Whenever there’s blood, you see them running there straightaway and making a fuss. Where there’s peace you don’t see that. That’s a problem with journalists. We do a lot for peace, gatherings with people, a ton of activities for peace, coexistence, a shared life.”

The group also included Israeli activists from Tag Meir, an anti-racism activism group.

Raji Sabatin, a peace activist from Husan who is Ziad’s cousin, said he told the Ansbacher family he denounces violence.

“I said that just as I reject the killing of Palestinians, I reject the killing of Israelis,” he told The Times of Israel. “I also said we must find a way to live together in coexistence.”

Raji noted that the Palestinian activists who took part in visit were from Husan, Wadi Fukin, Ramallah and Bethlehem.

Meretz MK Mossi Raz, who joined in the condolence visit with the Palestinian activists, told the Kan public broadcaster, “There are no words to describe the condemnation, rage, anger and sorrow. I’ll do everything I can so that this will be the last” death in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He added that he was “happy that Palestinians were part of this visit.”

On Monday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the suspected killer Irfaiya’s remand for an additional 10 days. Channel 12 news reported that investigators from the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police hope to indict him for terrorist murder and rape.

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

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

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.

The agency said Irfaiya had reenacted the murder in front of interrogators and “implicated himself definitively in the incident.”

In the predawn hours of Sunday morning, the IDF entered Irfaiya’s home in Hebron in order to prepare the structure for demolition, a policy enforced only in terror cases.

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 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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