A taxi driver from the Galilee village of I’billin was arrested last month in connection with the death of Shelly Dadon, 20, with officials saying the slaying was likely nationalistically motivated, police said Sunday.

Yousef Hussein Halifa was arrested on June 16. Halifa, 36, admitted he drove Dadon on May 1 to the Migdal Haemek industrial center, where she was headed to a job interview, and later stabbed her to death.

The motive has yet to be determined, but police and the Shin Bet assess the killing was likely nationalistically motivated.

According to Halifa, after disposing of the body in a parking lot, he threw out Dadon’s cellphone and the weapon and cleaned the bloodstains from his car. After escaping the scene of the crime, Hussein disposed of her wallet near Beit Zarzir.

Dadon was stabbed 17 times, the Ynet news site reported.

Yousef Hussein Halifa, the suspect who confessed to killing 20-year-old Shelley Dadon (photo credit: Shin Bet/Courtesy)

Yousef Hussein Halifa, the suspect who confessed to killing 20-year-old Shelley Dadon (photo credit: Shin Bet/Courtesy)

Officials initially said they believed the killing was nationalistically motivated, but later walked back the statements, saying only that they were still searching for a motive. Dadon’s parents insisted on June 30 that the attack was nationalistically motivated, and called on the police to publicly declare it as such.

“My daughter’s murder was nationalistically motivated, and I won’t accept anything else,” Yaakov Dadon said of his daughter Shelley during a press conference at the family’s Afula home. “[She was] a girl who never hurt anyone, and now the entire family is broken.”

In mid-June, a gag order on the murder investigation was partially lifted, revealing that six Israeli-Arab suspects — some of them minors — were arrested in connection with the case and later released. While the interrogations yielded no developments, the investigation then found a separate lead, but information about it remained under a court order.

In May, Aharonovitch said Dadon’s murder may have been criminally motivated and not a terror attack as previously suspected. Aharonovitch said that it was not clear if Dadon had been killed in a act of terror because she was a Jew. He added that the investigation was still ongoing.

The six detainees who were released denied their involvement in the killing after being arrested on May 4. One of the minors was released on May 15; two days later the remaining suspects were freed, the Haaretz newapaper reported.

The murder ignited passions in Afula, where a protest calling to stiffen penalties against murderers drew over 2,000 people.