Arafat Irfaiya, Ori Ansbacher's murderer, brought to court.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Even if Mahmoud Katusa had been indicted for the rape of the seven-year-old Israeli girl, it’s unlikely that he would have been endorsed by any Palestinian faction for carrying out a nationalistic-motivated offense.
In fact, no Palestinian faction endorsed Katusa upon learning of his arrest for the alleged sexual crime. The factions regularly distance themselves from Palestinians involved in criminal offenses, particularly sexual assaults and rape.
Earlier this year, the Palestinian factions refused to endorse Arafat Irfaiya, a resident of Hebron who has been charged in the rape and murder of Israeli teenager Ori Ansbacher.
Like Katusa, Irfayia did not belong to any Palestinian faction. In Hebron, the 29-year-old Irfaiya was known as a criminal with no political affiliations.
Unlike Katusa, Irfaiya has confessed to his heinous crime, which is supported by forensic evidence. Katusa, on the other hand, insists he’s completely innocent.
And while Irfaiya had a criminal record, Katusa did not have any documented run-ins with the law.
Prosecutors have nevertheless charged Irfaiya with rape and murder in the context of a terrorist act. “He came across Ansbacher and decided to kill her because she’s Jewish,” according to the charge sheet presented against him.
Irfaiya is reported to have told investigators that he bought a kippah so he could enter Israel without being suspected or identified as an illegal resident. “I left my home to kill a Jew due to the occupation and treatment of Arabs at checkpoints,” he reportedly told investigators.
On April 19, Israeli security forces demolished Irfaiya’s home, indicating that he committed his crime out of nationalistic motives. Palestinian security prisoners, however, are unlikely to welcome Irfaiya in their cells.
The Palestinians continue to dismiss the claim that Irfaiya raped and murdered the 19-year-old Ansbacher for nationalistic motives.
An official with the Palestinian Commission for Palestinian Prisoners, an institution that is responsible for Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails, said on Tuesday that Israel was seeking to “distort the image of the Palestinian national movement by depicting criminals as being part of the struggle against the occupation.”
The official said that the case of Irfaiya was not the first of its kind in which Israeli authorities have accused criminals and murderers of acting out of nationalistic motives. “Even some car thieves have been accused of acting out of nationalistic motives,” he noted. “This is a dangerous trend, because it shows that a Palestinian is automatically suspected of being a terrorist regardless of his motives.”
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