JERUSALEM: The Palestinian man who murdered a young Israeli woman had “nationalist” motives, the Shin Bet security agency said on Sunday, a day after his arrest.
The body of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher was found on Thursday south of Jerusalem and her suspected murdered Arafat Irfaiya, 29, was arrested on Saturday in what the Shin Bet now says was a “nationalist” attack.
Both the police and the Shin Bet security agency said earlier that investigations had so far not concluded whether it was a “terrorist attack” or driven by another motive.
But in the run-up to general elections in April, politicians and Israeli media appeared to have already made up their minds.
“I have no doubts about the nationalist motives of the murderer,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told public radio.
Despite a court gag order, Israeli social media were abuzz at the weekend with what Yediot Aharonot newspaper called “graphic descriptions about the alleged nature of the murder”.
And on Sunday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under pressure and seeking re-election in April, pledged to freeze money transfers to the Palestinian Authority in line with a law voted in July by parliament, which has yet to be implemented.
The prime minister also visited the Ansbacher family on Sunday evening and promised that he will make good on his pledge.
In July last year, the Israeli parliament passed legislation to partially withhold funds, in response to Palestinian Authority payments to families of Palestinians jailed by Israel for attacks against Israelis.
The army on Sunday said it had started preparations to demolish the West Bank home of the Palestinian suspect in the flashpoint city of Hebron on the occupied West Bank.
Ansbacher’s body was found late on Thursday in southeast Jerusalem, and she was buried the next day in her Israeli settlement of Tekoa.