Palestinian Man Admits to Rape, Murder of Israeli Teenager

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

Arafat Irfaiya, the Palestinian man suspected of sexually assaulting and murdering 19-year-old Israeli Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem last year, confessed to the crimes Sunday morning. The Jerusalem District Court ruled that Irfaiya attacked Ansbacher, and that he was motivated by nationalism. 

Irfaiya, a 29-year-old Hebron resident, was charged with the terrorist act of premeditated murder, rape and illegal entry into Israel. According to the indictment, he walked around a forest near Ein Yael in Jerusalem last February, and then noticed Ansbacher hiking in the area, holding pages of her writing. Irfaiya, who was armed with a knife, decided to kill Ansbacher because she was Jewish, the indictement alleged, and attacked her violently and mercilessly.

Ansbacher fought back, but Irfaiya overpowered her and stabbed her multiple times all over her body, the indictement continues. Irfaiya was arrested two days later by Israeli security forces, based on DNA evidence and information gathered at the scene.

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

Despite this, a security source told Haaretz Irfaiya was at least associated with Hamas. According to security officials, Israel Police and Shin Bet are familiar with the young man, who had a criminal record and was known for making inciting comments. In 2009, he was arrested for possession of a knife near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and imprisoned for three months.

In 2017, Irfaiya was arrested at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with a knife on his person. He denied having a weapon, but eventually unsheathed it. He told investigators that he had no intention of hurting anyone, but that he wanted to get caught, arrested or shot at. He told investigators that he would do it again: "I'm going to buy another knife, I'm going to come back here to get thrown in jail or become a martyr." He reiterated in his interrogation that he had planned to be shot dead.

Two apartments where his family lived were destroyed in April 2019, after an appeal to stay the demolition was rejected. The family said that they had long ago dissociated themselves from Irfaiya and that he lived in only one room in one of the apartments.

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