Palestinian suspect in Tekoa woman’s murder arrested outside Ramallah

Right-wing activists tried to block the road at Jerusalem’s northwestern entrance on Saturday night, chanting, “The nation demands revenge.”

February 9, 2019 22:32
3 minute read.
Police arrest Arafat al-Rifaiyeh, 29, suspected of murdering Ori Ansbacher, 19

Police arrest Palestinian man Arafat al-Rifaiyeh, 29, suspected of murdering Ori Ansbacher, 19, in this photo released on February 10th, 2019. (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)


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The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police arrested a Palestinian man near Ramallah over the weekend suspected of brutally murdering Ori Ansbacher, 19, in Jerusalem’s Ein Yael forest on Thursday.

The grisly murder of the smiling young woman from Tekoa, who was a national service volunteer in the Ye’elim youth center in Emek Refaim forest, sparked national outrage, which was fed by social media posts that provided gory details on her killing.

Right-wing activists tried to block the road at Jerusalem’s northwestern entrance on Saturday night, Right-wing activists tried to block the road at Jerusalem’s northwestern entrance on Saturday night, chanting, “The nation demands revenge.”
According to the Shin Bet, the suspect, Arafat al-Rifaiyeh, 29, “left his home in Hebron with a knife and made his way to the village of Beit Jala,” just south of Jerusalem.

From the village, he “walked to the forest, where he saw Ori, attacked and murdered her.”

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the main direction of the investigation is that it was a terrorist attack.

The Shin Bet and Israel Police’s counterterrorism unit are running the probe, he said.

But even before the investigation has come to a close, right-wing politicians and activists decried the murder as a terrorist attack, calling for the death penalty and for Rifaiyeh’s relatives to be deported.

Activists on Saturday night held a number of small demonstrations in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take stiff action against terrorists. This included a demand that the government withhold taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.

The Deduction Law, which the Knesset passed last year, allows Netanyahu to withhold a sum equivalent to what the PA pays to terrorist and their families.

On Friday night, in a Shin Bet and Israel Police joint operation, security services entered El-Bireh, adjoining Ramallah, and arrested Rifaiyeh in a building near a mosque.

Residents threw stones, pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails at the Border Police and IDF jeeps that secured the area, so that the Shin Bet and the police’s counterterrorism unit could operate.

The Shin Bet has interrogated Rifaiyeh, and there is a gag order on the investigation.

UN Ambassador Danny Danon called for the Security Council to condemn the killing. He also requested an urgent meeting with the UNSC president, a position held this month by the Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador to the UN, Anatolio Ndong Mba.

“The Security Council’s silence will not help in this fight against terrorism, and will only allow the waves of hatred to grow unchecked,” Danon said. “While this silence continues, the PA maintains its policy of paying salaries for terrorists and educating its youth with incitement, and a 19-yearold girl was brutally murdered in Israel.

“The Security Council has the responsibility and moral duty to make a clear condemnation of this barbaric murder and to act firmly against the culture of terror in the Palestinian Authority, the very culture that undermines stability in the region and destroys innocent lives,” Danon said.

Netanyahu commended the Shin Bet and the police’s special anti-terror unit for apprehending Rifaiyeh.

“The long arm of Israel will reach whoever hurts us and we will settle accounts with them,” he said. “For myself and for the entire people of Israel, I would like to express condolences to the Ansbacher family and to support them during their terrible grief.”

Yisrael Beytenu faction head Robert Ilatov said it is unfortunate that it is only in such cases that the public understands that there is no choice but to apply the death penalty.

“I call upon the justice system to sentence him to death,” he said.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said he and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked would back Netanyahu if he instructed the government to withhold the Palestinian tax fees.

“At this moment, terrorists are preparing the next terrible murder of Jews,” Bennett said.

President Reuven Rivlin said Israel won’t back down from the fight against terrorism.

“We will seek out the perpetrators and their associates until we find them and punish them to the fullest extent of the law, in every place and wherever they hide from us,” he said.

“Tonight, too, we send our prayers of consolation to the Ansbacher family and to the whole community of Tekoa for the shining light that has been extinguished by a vile hand, and for the great void that Ori – good-hearted and generous – leaves behind.”

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