Israel in mourning for murdered teen
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Israel in mourning for murdered teen

The circumstances of the assault that killed Israeli teenager Ori Ansbacher weren’t initially clear, but on Sunday authorities confirmed that it was terrorism.

Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu pay their respects to the family of Ori Ansbacher. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu pay their respects to the family of Ori Ansbacher. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO

SHE was laid to rest with tenderness, after meeting a brutal end at the hands of the terrorist who assaulted and killed her.

Ori Ansbacher, 19, was a “gentle soul,” who was “beautiful on the outside and inside,” said her mother Naeh.

Her daughter was a songwriter and poet, who had lots to say. But the mother “has been left without words”.

Ansbacher was an idealist who was in the middle of a year of national service with a youth organisation and she “wanted to fix the world.” She will never get the chance.

The circumstances of the attack weren’t initially clear, but on Sunday authorities confirmed that it was terrorism.

Security forces captured the suspect, who has since confessed, after a wide-scale operation. Arafat Irfaiya, 29, went from his Hebron home to Jerusalem, and identified his target in the forest where he subsequently abandoned her body.

In Tekoa, the 1200-family West Bank settlement where Ansbacher lived, there is a bitter sense of deja vu. “This is the fourth child this community has lost to terror in the last 20 years,” community leader Shani Simkowitz told The AJN.

“The tragedy has a ripple effect on everyone here, friends, family, and the whole community.” Simkowitz said that Ansbacher wrote “very beautiful” songs about nature, peace and love, and described her as a “flower cut off before her time.”

Mourners at the funeral were haunted by details of the attack and the disdain that her corpse had been treated with. The crowd, largely made up of young people, many of who had never attended a funeral before, swayed and sang, and recited prayers together.

They recalled that she was attacked and killed when she had been engaged in the most peaceful of activities, walking in the forest.

President Reuven Rivlin praised security forces for catching the “despicable” murderer. He pledged: “We will not be deterred and we will not cease our uncompromising 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.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that “the long arm of Israel will reach all those who hurt us and we will settle accounts with them.” Heads of various political parties stopped their electioneering to express their disgust at the murder.

“The Israeli people are united in mourning over the abominable murder of Ori Ansbacher, of blessed memory,” said Benny Gantz, head of the Israel Resilience party.

The attack prompted promises for action against pay-to-slay payments. Around the time that Australia ended direct funding to the Palestinian Authority, Israel passed a law to dint PA budgets every time stipends are paid to terrorists.

Under the law, Israel will withhold money that it normally passes to the PA (from Palestinian taxes) if stipends are paid. The law was passed but not put in to action, and after the attack Education Minister Naftali Bennett complained.

“The terrorists are no longer afraid,” said Bennett. “At this moment, terrorists are preparing the next terrible murder of Jews, because they know they can expect to make a financial gain for themselves and their families for the rest of their lives.” Netanyahu agreed to instruct authorities to act on the law.

As well as the attack, there was more tragedy in Israel this week, when two young women were killed in a bus crash near Jerusalem on Sunday.

The bus overturned in a traffic accident, injuring around 30 people. Three people were trapped in the wreckage, until firefighters could pull them out.

NATHAN JEFFAY

Ori Ansbacher.
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