Israel Police statement read, “A joint investigation of the Israeli Police and the General Security Service (Shin Bet) led SWAT (MAGAV) and IDF forces to Ramallah, where a suspect was arrested in connection with the murder of Ori Ansbacher in the Ein Yael area in Jerusalem.”
Israeli police and security forces arrested a Palestinian man in connection with the murder of a 19-year-old woman from a West Bank settlement, whose lifeless body was found in the Jerusalem forest on Thursday night with multiple stab wounds.
The suspect, reportedly aged 30, was arrested in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. He is originally from Hebron.
“A joint investigation of the Israeli police and the General Security Service (Shin Bet) led the SWAT forces and IDF to Ramallah, where a suspect was arrested in connection with the murder of Ori Ansbacher in the Ein Yael area in Jerusalem,” a Saturday morning police statement read, adding that the suspect was taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet security agency.
Palestinian media reported that Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man in an overnight operation near Ramallah in the Al-Bireh area.
— Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) February 8, 2019
IDF troops raided two residential buildings before finding the suspect in the Jamal Abdel Nasser Mosque, where he was an employee, according to Palestinian Authority news outlet Wafa. According to the report, Israeli forces collected video surveillance from the mosque and surrounding neighborhood security cameras.
Following the raid, local residents reportedly threw rocks at IDF troops in what developed into small clashes which left two Palestinians lightly injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Ori Ansbacher, who had been reported missing Thursday, was found in the Ein Yael forest several hours later with “signs of violence” on her body, Times of Israel quoted police and medical staff as saying.
Four Palestinians were arrested shortly after the body was found, local media reported, but police refused to comment further on details after a gag order was imposed on their investigation, which is being co-conducted in cooperation with Israel’s Shin Bet security service.
They were reportedly released without charge, according to local reports.
Police told Haaretz daily that the investigation was “one of the most difficult cases in recent years.” The same report says the individuals originally arrested have been released as the Shin Bet and police continue searches in the area on horse-back.
Initially investigators at the scene reported that the event was being handled as a criminal incident rather than terror related.
Ein Yael is located near wooded areas around Jerusalem’s biblical zoo and Walaja, a Palestinian village in the West Bank.
According to paramedics at the scene, “When we arrived, we were led to an open area where we saw a young woman unconscious without a pulse or signs of breathing. After performing medical tests, she was found without any signs of life and unfortunately we could only pronounce her dead.”
Local media quoted the victim’s parents (whose identities remain under gag order) as saying their daughter was a “holy soul seeking meaning, a sensitive soul for every person and creatures with an infinite desire to correct the world with goodness.”
Ansbacher’s funeral was held Friday afternoon in the Tekoa settlement where she lived.
The 19-year-old was a member of Israel’s National Service working in a youth treatment center in Emek Rafaim.
Condemnation from Israeli officials
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, called on the UN Security Council to condemn Ansbacher’s murder as a terrorist act.
“The silence of the Security Council will not help the war on terrorism. A 19-year-old girl was brutally murdered in Israel,” Danon said. “The Security Council has the moral duty to make a clear condemnation of barbaric murder and to act firmly against the culture of terror in the Palestinian Authority, which undermines stability in the region and harms innocents.”
Earlier, local reports said that investigators had made a “significant breakthrough” in the case, with Channel 13 stating that police believe the most likely motive for the killing of the woman was “nationalistic”, as searches were also being carried out in the West Bank.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed in a statement on Friday evening that “the security forces will track down those responsible for this killing and we will treat them with the full force of the law.”
Netanyahu’s principal challenger in an April 9 general election, former armed forces chief of staff Benny Gantz, said he had full confidence in the ability of the security forces to arrest the killer.
“This was a shocking and heinous murder, a murder out of blind hatred of a 19-year-old girls because she was Jewish. There is no room for these scum on earth. Today, more than ever, it is clear that the demand of Yisrael Beiteinu (party) for terrorists to be sentenced to death is justified,” Avigdor Liberman, Chairman of Yisrael Beieinu and former defense minister, said on Saturday.
‘We have not heard a word from you’
Left-wing critics noted that Israel’s present and presumptive leadership were far quicker in issuing statements of condemnation against the Jewish teen’s murder than they were after the killing of Aya Maasarwe, 21, or Siwar Keblawi, 20.
The big difference, according to critics, is that Ansbacher is a Jewish woman, while Maasarwe and Keblawi are both Arab citizens of Israel who were murdered abroad.
In January, Maasarwe was brutally raped and murdered while studying abroad in Australia. Nearly a week after Maasarwe’s murder and details of the crime were already publicized internationally, neither Netanyahu nor Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had made statements or reached out to the victims family.
“Days after the heinous murder and we have not heard a word from you,” said the mayor of Baqa al-Gharbia, the victim’s home village. He was joined by some Arab-Israeli parliament members who pointed at the Israeli government for failing to give any attention to the murder of Aiia Maasarwa that has rocked Australia.
Maasarwe was laid to rest at the end of January after her body was sent back to Israel from Australia. On the day of her funeral, Netanyahu broke his silence and gave his condolences to her family via telephone.
Keblawi, an Arab-Israeli from Umm al-Fahm in the Lower Galilee, was killed this week in Turkey, where she had reportedly fled to after a “family dispute” threatened her life, according to a report released Thursday by Walla news agency.
According to the report, Keblawi’s brother found her staying with her father in Izmit, Turkey.
Turkish authorities initially believed she fell from her balcony on the third floor but later said they believed she had been strangled, and they were holding her brother as the prime suspect.
On Friday, the Israeli Women’s Network condemned the killings of both Keblawi and Ansbacher, calling the murders “a reality than cannot be tolerated.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP) contributed to this report.
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