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Palestinians disavow Israeli woman's suspected killer over alleged rape: report

Arafat Irfaiya (C), un Palestinien accusé du meurtre d'une jeune Israélienne, présenté à un tribunal de Jérusalem le 11 février 2019
MENAHEM KAHANA (AFP)
The confessed murderer reportedly said he entered Israel to kill Jews then found the victim 'by chance'

Palestinians have reportedly distanced themselves from the West Bank man suspected in the terror-motivated murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher near Jerusalem last week after it came to light that she may have also been raped.

Armed Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad - which are usually quick to claim responsibility for terror attacks successfully carried out in Israel - have remained uncharacteristically silent in regards to the attack.

A Fatah official currently serving a prison sentence in Israel reportedly condemned 29-year-old Arafat Irfaiya's act and asked that the PA refuse paying any salary to the victim's family or for his defense.

"Such behavior is totally unacceptable to us. Anyone who commits such acts is not a human being," a senior Fatah official in Israeli custody told Haaretz. "If an Arab girl had been there, he would have done the same thing. There is nothing nationalist in his acts.”

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The PA provides Palestinians imprisoned in Israel on security-related charges (and their families) with financial support as part of a policy critics refer to as "pay for slay." Israel says the policy encourages acts of violence against its civilian population.

The official reportedly said he believes Irfaiya will be held with other Hamas prisoners based on his family's links to the terror organization, emphasizing that Fatah prisoners would not accept him in their midst.

"If we catch him, no one will be able to protect him from harm," he is quoted as saying.

Arab Israeli lawmaker Aida Touma-Suleiman of the left-wing Hadash party tweeted on Tuesday Ansbacher's rape and murder were gender-based crimes rather than acts committed in the name of Palestinian nationalism.

"This (Israeli) government is committing a crime when it uses Ori's murder to continue tarnishing the Palestinian struggle over an obscene crime committed by one person," she wrote.

AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Prisoners Club and other organizations that typically provide legal representation for Palestinians in Israeli custody have not sent 29-year-old Arafat Irfayia anyone to represent him in court.

The club's director, Qadura Fares, told Haaretz that the suspect's family did not contact his organization to receive legal help.

"If there will be such a request, we will consider it and send a defense lawyer to review his claims,” Fares said. “If it turns out there really was a sexual assault, we will pass on representation. That would make the case a criminal one, as far as we’re concerned, and we object to anyone committing a criminal offense trying to pass it off as a nationalist act.”

- 'I wanted to become a martyr, murder a Jew' -

Irfayia reportedly told Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency that he left the West Bank on Thursday night in search of a Jewish victim and found Ori Ansbacher by chance.

Israel’s Channel 13 news reported on Monday night that Irfayia told Shin Bet interrogators: “I entered Israel with a knife because I wanted to become a martyr and murder a Jew.”

According to the report, Irfaiya said he “met the girl by chance” after crossing the Green Line into Israel.

Police Spokesman

On Monday, Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court extended Irfaiya’s detention by ten days.

Ansbacher, who is from the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, was found dead with multiple stab wounds to her body in a Jerusalem forest on Thursday night, hours after she was reported missing by her family.

Irfayia was arrested in Ramallah over the weekend in connection with Ansbacher’s murder and confessed to the crime during interrogation, admitting that the attack had been motivated by Palestinian nationalism.

Channel 12 news reported that investigators from the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police hope to indict Irfaiya for murder in the context of a terrorist act in addition to a charge of rape.

Specific details concerning Ansbacher's sexual assault (as well us other specifics of the case) have thus far remained subject to a court-imposed gag order.

Israeli police asked media outlets and public figures to refrain from publicizing details on the case, citing the risks associated with spreading misinformation.

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