This week, Israel and the Jewish people mourned the loss of a beautiful soul, gone far too soon. On Thursday February 7, a Palestinian terrorist left his home in Hebron carrying a knife with the intent to murder in the name of Palestinian ‘liberation.’ From his home, he traveled to the Palestinian village of Beit Jala and began walking toward the Ein Yael forest in southern Jerusalem, where he saw 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher. There, he attacked, raped and killed her, claiming he wanted to be a “martyr” for the Palestinian cause.
After Israel’s Border Police and Civilian Counter Terrorism Unit (Yamam) gathered intelligence information identifying 29-year-old Arafat Irfaiya as the murderer, on Friday, IDF soldiers located and arrested the Hebron man near Ramallah. According to interrogations by Israel’s Security Service (Shabak), Irfaiya’s motives were nationalistic. The man comes from a well-known Hamas-supporting family in Hebron and has previously served time in Israeli prison for terror incitement.
On Saturday, IDF forces mapped the home of the terrorist, a preliminary stage in its demolition, a tactic used by the IDF to deter future terror attacks.
IDF’s Hebrew Twitter account posted a video of the operation:
במהלך הלילה פעלו כוחות צה״ל בעיר חברון שבמרחב חטמ״ר ״יהודה״, ממנה יצא החשוד ברצח אורי אנסבכר ז״ל. במהלך הפעילות מיפו הכוחות את בית החשוד, לצורך בחינת אפשרות הריסתו pic.twitter.com/imYbDa3O0u
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) February 10, 2019
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to implement the ‘Pay-to-Slay’ law passed last July that gives the government power to deduct funds from tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, equal to the amount of money that the PA gives to terrorists and their families for committing attacks against Israelis.
Dr. John A.I Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, sent his deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ori Ansbacher. “Our heart breaks with the Ansbacher family. A beautiful soul murdered, volunteering as part of her civil service in the Ye’elim youth center at Ein Yael. Her parents, Rabbi Gai and Na’ama Ansbacher, described their daughter as a holy soul who sought deep meaning and had sensitivity for each person and living thing. Ori, like our soldiers, had an endless desire to repair the world in goodness. We mourn her loss and may her memory be a blessing to us all.”
Grossman thanked the IDF soldiers whose bravery and swift actions led to the successful arrest of the terrorist. “In a joint effort by various Israeli institutions including the IDF, the murderer was arrested within days of committing this horrible act. As we mourn this tragic event, we are reminded of all for which we are thankful – from the collective heart of the Israeli people who comforted the Ansbacher family, to the courageous soldiers who worked to ensure that this murderer would not get away after committing such evil.”
As the IDF continues its plans to demolish the home of the terrorist, Palestinian response to the murder and the IDF’s efforts have been varied. On Friday, the arresting forces encountered violent resistance, including Palestinian men who threw rocks and petrol bombs at IDF vehicles. On Sunday, Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister Youssef Ideiss complained about Israeli forces entering a mosque outside Ramallah in search of Irfaiya. Terrorists often seek refuge in mosques, taking advantage of the IDF’s sensitivity to Muslim religious practice, even during counter-terrorism efforts. Indeed, data seized from the mosque led to the arrest of the murder shortly afterwards in a nearby building.
According to media watchdog Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the PA’s official daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported Ideiss as decrying the incident as a “cowardly attack against a religious and sacred place of worship, without any consideration for its sanctity and its religious and spiritual value.” Ideiss further claimed that the event “constitutes part of a series of daily attacks against our Islamic and Christian holy sites, and particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the pearl of Palestine, by the occupation forces and unbridled settlers and under political cover of the right-wing occupation government.”
In an unusual silence for the terror groups following a murder of an Israeli by a Palestinian, neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad have praised or acknowledged the attack. Other Palestinian groups have quietly condemned the attack, including a senior Fatah member serving in Israeli prison. The unusual silence and condemnation of the attack is attributed to the rape, which is considered “criminal,” as opposed to murder (especially of IDF soldiers), which is considered by the Palestinian Authority a legal form of resistance.
Qadura Fares of the Palestinian Authority-affiliated Palestinian Prisoners Club, which finances the legal defense and supports them and their families with stipends and grants of terrorists, said Monday that he would not represent the terrorist because of the sexual assault. As a result, Irfaiya is currently represented by the Israeli public defender’s office. According to The Jerusalem Post, 30 Palestinians also paid consolation visits to the Ansbacher family in Tekoa, who welcomed them with open arms.
LIBI USA continues to grieve the loss of Ori, a light to her family, friends and to all of Israel.