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(photo credit: Channel 2)
Family and friends gathered at the Katzrin cemetery Thursday to bury 13-year-old Ta'ir Rada, the eighth-grade student who was murdered a day earlier in a bathroom in her school, as police arrested its first suspect in the brutal murder.
For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here
Rafael Cohen, a 56-year-old local resident with a criminal record, was arrested late Thursday morning. Shortly afterward, police requested - and received - a gag order on the investigation, preventing the release of any information on the case. Police said any details as to the nature of Cohen's prior offenses were covered by the gag order as evidence possibly connected to the murder.
But a senior officer in the Galilee Subdistrict said Cohen was "just one of many investigative horizons that police are probing," and denied news reports Thursday night that police had said they now had the beginnings of a lead in the investigation.
Meanwhile, the small Golan Heights city where Rada spent her short life was still reeling from the shock of Katzrin's first murder since it was founded 30 years ago. Psychologists and social workers awaited shocked, tearful students at Nofei Golan High School, which had turned into a nationally-infamous murder scene overnight. The school where Rada studied and was murdered is less than 100 meters from the local police station.
On Thursday, police descended on the school to interview dozens of students, and continue to search for clues. Police said Cohen's arrest did not mean they they knew for certain that Rada had not been killed by a classmate.
"Our children are not safe in their schools! Anybody who says otherwise is lying," Ta'ir's mother, Ilana Rada, warned parents a day after her youngest child was found stabbed to death in a school bathroom. Brown-eyed Ta'ir was the baby of the family; she is survived by her parents and two brothers, both in their twenties.
Ta'ir Rada was, according to those who knew her, a lively, happy girl who aspired to become an international model. In a youth Internet forum, shortly before her murder, Rada said that she aspired to one day live in Tel Aviv and to fly back and forth overseas as part of her modeling career.