Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
The Palestinian Authority said on Sunday that it has not received any request to provide financial aid to the family of Arafat Irfaiya, the Palestinian who confessed to murdering 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem last week.
Security officials say that Irfaiya, 29, from Hebron, has confessed to killing Ansbacher for nationalistic purposes and he reconstructed the murder for police on Sunday ahead of his arraignment in court.
The investigation is continuing under gag order.
A PA official told The Jerusalem Post
that “claims in the Israeli media to the effect that the family of Irfaiya would receive a monthly salary are part of the campaign of incitement against the Palestinian leadership and President Mahmoud Abbas.”
Osama Qawassmeh, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank, accused the Israeli media and settlers of “stepping up their campaign of incitement against President Abbas and the Palestinian leadership” after the murder of Ansbacher.
An official with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission told the Post that even if Irfaiya’s family applies for financial aid, it will take weeks, if not months, to determine whether they are entitled to any form of payment.
“At this stage, we still don’t know anything about this specific case,” the official said. “It’s not even clear whether this was a nationalistically motivated attack.”
Hebron Municipality officials refused to talk about the murder and the arrest of Irfaiya, on the pretext that they were not familiar with the full details of the case.
Members of Irfaiya’s family said on Sunday that he did not belong to any Palestinian faction. They also said they were surprised to hear that their son had been arrested in connection with the murder.
“Arafat did not belong to any Palestinian group,” the suspect’s brother, Suleiman, said. “We were surprised when he heard his name in the news. Our family is not affiliated with Fatah or Hamas or any other faction.”
Suleiman said that he finds it difficult to believe that his brother carried out the murder.
“He was never involved in such things,” he said. “I know my brother very well, and I don’t believe he’s capable of doing such a thing.” The brother said that the IDF on Saturday night mapped the family’s home in Hebron and informed him that it would be demolished.
Mohammed Irfaiya, a cousin of the suspect, said that Arafat used to enter Israel in search of work.
“He did not have a permit to work in Israel,” he said. “He used to go to Jerusalem and other places in Israel to search for work, like thousands of Palestinians who also don’t have work permits.” The cousin admitted that several members of the family were affiliated with Hamas. “Many residents of Hebron support Hamas,” he said. “This does not necessarily mean that they are involved in attacks against Israel.”
Another family relative who works as a high school teacher in Hebron said that he did not rule out the possibility that Irfaiya’s confession had been extracted under pressure.
“We don’t know anything yet,” he said. “The only information we are getting is from the Israeli authorities and media. As far as we know, no Palestinian group has taken responsibility for the killing of the settler.”
Some Palestinian residents of Hebron, however, said that they did not rule the possibility that Irfaiya had planned to carry out an attack against Israelis. In several comments on Facebook, they expressed hope that the suspect would be released soon. They also claimed that he was arrested by the IDF thanks to security coordination between the PA and Israel. A few Palestinians, on the other hand, said they were disgusted by the gruesome murder of a young woman and said such crimes are harmful to the Palestinians.
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