The Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Religious Affairs Youssef Ideiss condemned Israeli forces on Sunday for entering a mosque over the weekend while in pursuit of the murderer of an Israeli teenager.
According to local 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.”
The undercover Israeli security personnel had reportedly entered the Jamal Abdel Nasser Mosque, the largest mosque in Al-Bireh, in the central West Bank. The mosque is named after the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Palestinian media reports said that security camera footage was confiscated from the mosque and a 30-year-old employee was arrested. The seized data led to the arrest of the murderer shortly afterwards in a nearby building, PMW said.
The killer, Arafat Irfayia, later admitted to the murder of Ori Ansbacher, 19, whose body was found in a forested area near Jerusalem on Thursday. Signs of extreme violence were reportedly found on the body, though details have been withheld. It was not officially revealed until Sunday that she was also raped. On Sunday, Irfayia reenacted the crime for police.
Minister Ideiss did not mention Ansbacher’s murder in his remarks about the mosque. In addition, Al-Hayat al-Jadida falsely claimed the victim was a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces.
“A young person was arrested who is suspected in the murder of a female soldier in the occupation army,” the daily stated.