Palestinian groups steer clear of Ori Ansbacher’s killer over rape allegation

Prisoners Club head says he won’t fund Arafat Irfaiya’s legal defense; senior Fatah member serving time says ‘no one will be able to prevent him getting hurt’ in prison

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)

Palestinian terror groups and the Palestinian Authority appear to have quietly renounced the confessed murderer of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher because he also allegedly raped her.

Citing his answers under questioning, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said that 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 area on the city’s southern edge. He then raped and murdered her, according to the agency.

“If it turns out there was a sexual assault, we will not represent him,” the head of the PA-affiliated Palestinian Prisoners Club, Qadura Fares, told the Haaretz daily on Monday.

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 in the first few days after the attack.

Ori Ansbacher (Courtesy)

Irfaiya confessed his actions to investigators and accurately recreated the events at the scene, the agency said. He also claimed he had done it to become a “martyr” for the Palestinian cause.

Palestinian terror groups usually laud and embrace the killers of Israelis, while the PA and affiliated organizations such as the PLO and Prisoners Club finance their legal defense and support them and their families with stipends and grants.

But, Fares explained, if the rape allegation is confirmed, “then from our perspective this becomes a criminal case. We’re against the idea that anyone who commits a criminal act can then try to cloak themselves in the nationalist flag.”

Irfaiya is currently represented by the Israeli public defender’s office.

As yet, Irfaiya’s family has not asked for a Palestinian-funded legal defense, Fares said.

Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad had praised or otherwise acknowledged Irfaiya’s crimes as of Tuesday afternoon, an unusual silence for the terror groups following the murder of an Israeli by a Palestinian.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the family of teenage girl Ori Ansbacher, who was killed in a suspected terror attack, in their home in the Tekoa settlement, February 10, 2019. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Meanwhile, a senior member of Fatah serving a term in an Israeli prison told Haaretz that he condemns Irfaiya’s act. He said he and his compatriots in the prison had appealed to the Palestinian Authority not to pay Irfaiya a salary or fund his defense.

“This sort of behavior is completely unacceptable to us; someone who does this sort of thing isn’t human,” he said. “After all, if an Arab girl had been there, he would have done the same thing to her. There’s nothing nationalistic about his deeds. His act shames the Palestinian people and we are shocked by it and share in the family’s sorrow.”

He added: “Even if there was no rape, a murder like this is unacceptable. The victim wasn’t a soldier, and this wasn’t wartime. If you want to be a hero, you don’t go and murder an innocent woman who went into the woods to read a book.”

Fatah official Kadoura Fares (photo credit: Flash90)
File: Fatah official Qadura Fares. (Flash90)

He said Irfaiya could be placed in the ward reserved for Hamas prisoners, as Fatah-affiliated prisoners “will never accept someone like that here. The man should be sent to the criminal ward and be punished for what he did to this woman. If we get hold of him, no one will be able to prevent him getting hurt.”

Ansbacher’s murder shocked Israelis, and led right-wing politicians to call for the enactment of a death penalty for terrorists.

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 terrorists and their families.

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