(photo credit: Channel 1)
A Kalkilya resident has been arrested for murdering 20-year old Inbal Amram in early March after an attempted car jacking went wrong, police said on Tuesday after a gag order on the case was lifted.
The unnamed suspect, who is also about 20, was picked up Sunday by an elite border police unit following a joint investigation by the investigations unit of the Yarkon area and the Shin Bet security service.
Police Superintendent Dudi Bar, who led the investigation, said detectives knew who the suspect was about three days after the murder, as is his finger prints were found at the crime scene and he was already known to the police for previous car crimes.
However, it took almost a month to arrest the suspect because he was from the Palestinian Authority.
"It's hard to find people in the territories," Bar said, adding that police also wanted to collect further evidence against the suspect to strengthen their case.
The Palestinian told interrogators that he arrived in Petah Tikva in the early hours of Saturday, March 4 with the original intention of stealing a vehicle. As he was looking at the cars in the area, Inbal exited her house to collect her sister from a party, climbed into the car and prepared to drive off.
"The suspect (then) opened the door, threatened the victim with a knife and entered the car," the police said.
"The victim tried to escape and the suspect stabbed her in the neck and fled the area with the car until he came to the place where the vehicle and the body were found. At this stage, the suspect tried to set the car on fire but was unsuccessful and left the area," the police said.
When Inbal didn't arrive at the party the family called the police, who at first refused to search for her. They eventually relented and after an operation involving a police helicopter, Inbal's body and car were found a few hours after she disappeared in a field near the Pi Glilot fuel depot in North Tel Aviv.
While three of the officers involved in dealing with the Amram's request to search for Inbal have been disciplined for their behavior, police don't believe that a quicker response would have saved her life.
"This is because the murder was very close to the burglary itself," a senior officer explained.
Inbal's father, Hananiya, told Israeli television that the initial police response was still very hard for him to accept but that he would like to meet the suspect.
"I want to look at him in the eyes and ask him what right he had to take my daughter," Hananiya said.
Since the murder, it has been difficult for him to return to his work in a garage.
"I tried, but I have been unable to function. It's very difficult. It hurts. The pictures are looking at me all the time," he said.
Although the gag order on many of the details of the investigation has been lifted, it is still forbidden to disclose the suspect's name and any details that might identify him.
"He hasn't yet appeared in court and the law does not allow the identification of a suspect before this happens. He should appear in court in the coming days, maybe on Thursday or on Sunday. In addition there are a number of things that we are still investigating," said Bar.
This includes the possibility that there are other suspects in the murder.
"The chances are very small but we are obligated to look into this," he said, adding that he hopes that the accused will be indicted within a week or two.