Palestinian Charged With Murder and Rape of Israeli Teen

Meanwhile, Israeli forces demolish home of Palestinian assailant who killed two soldiers, shot pregnant woman whose baby later died

Arafat Irfaiya appears in a magistrate's court in Jerusalem, February 11, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Arafat Irfaiya, a 29-year-old Palestinian resident of the West Bank town of Hebron, was charged by the Jerusalem District prosecutor’s office on Thursday with the killing last month of Ori Ansbacher, 19, in a forest on the edge of Jerusalem. In addition to premeditated murder and rape, Irfaiya is charged with an act of terrorism and illegal entry into Israel.

The Hebron resident was arrested at his home several days after the killing. He implicated himself in the crime and reenacted it for security forces. On Wednesday, the Israeli army informed his family that his home would be demolished as a punitive measure. Security forces conducted a survey of the home last month in preparation for the demolition.

>> Swift operation led to capture of Israeli teen's suspected murderer, who likely acted alone | Analysis

Ori Ansbacher.

The Ansbacher family responded in a statement, saying: "The incident that we have experienced is not a private case but rather a national incident. The question that needs to be asked is not just what we are feeling now, but what every one of us is feeling and thinking on a day like this, even now, when we are in deep mourning over Ori, of blessed memory."

In a separate case, Israeli security forces demolished the home of Assam Barghouti, who shot and killed two soldiers in an attack at Givat Assaf in December. Barghouti was also connected to the shooting at a bus stop in Ofra, in which seven people were injured, including a pregnant woman whose baby died following an early delivery.

The Israel Defense Force, Israel Border Police and the Israel Civil Administration participated in the demolition of Barghouti's home in the village of Kobar, north of Ramallah.

Barghouti, 29, of the village of Kobar north of Ramallah, had served an 11-year sentence in an Israeli prison for security offenses, including planning to abduct soldiers, He was released in April of 2018.

Barghouti was arrested by security forces in December, about a month after the attack at Givat Assaf. According to the Shin Bet, he was involved in the shooting at Ofra, along with his brother Salah Barghouti – who was killed by security forces during an attempted arrest.

No backing

From the details obtained in the course of the reenactment, officials say Arafat Irfaiya spotted Anspacher, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, sitting on a chair in the forest and then raped and killed her. Police found signs that they had struggled on the ground at the scene of the reenactment.

The Shin Bet security agency said Irfaiya left his home in Hebron in possession of a knife, went to the West Bank town of Beit Jala and from there on foot to the forest in the vicinity of Ein Yael, where he spotted Ansbacher and assaulted and killed her.

In an unusual move, militant Palestinian factions, among them Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have refrained from taking credit for the murder because she was raped. The Palestinian Prisoners Club and other groups supporting jailed Palestinians did not send a lawyer to represent the Irfaiya and imprisoned Fatah members have also distanced themselves from the incident, opposing his being jailed in the wing identified with their faction. 

In a separated incident in March 2017, Irfaiya was arrested at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with a 12-centimeter (5-inch) knife. When initially asked if he had a knife, he initially denied it but then pulled it out of his pocket.