The killing of a teenage girl in northern Israel may have been criminally motivated and not a terror attack as previously suspected, the country’s top internal security official said Monday.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said that it was not clear if Shelley Dadon, whose battered body was discovered in a parking lot in early May, had been killed in a act of terror because she was a Jew. He added that the investigation was still ongoing.
“All avenues of investigation are being checked and the investigation is progressing,” Aharanovitch said of the murder. “It is still not possible to determine with certainty that the murder was nationalistic.”
Aharonovitch made the comments during a visit to the town of Umm al-Fahm, where a mosque was recently set on fire, part of a wave of anti-Arab attacks thought to be perpetrated by Jewish extremists.
The battered body of Dadon, 19, was found last month in an abandoned parking lot in Migdal Ha’emek, a city a few miles north of Dadon’s hometown of Afula, on May 1.
An investigation of her murder, which police and Shin Bet sources have suggested may have been a nationalistically motivated terror attack, is under a gag order.
The murder ignited passions in Afula, here a Saturday protest calling to stiffen penalties against murders drew over 2,000 people.
In addition to visiting the mosque in Umm al-Fahm the minister also traveled to several sites in Yokne’am that were recently subject to “price tag” attacks.
Aharanovitch reviewed the offices of a Druze dentist in the town who reported last week that the walls of the building had been spray-painted with racist slogans. The graffiti read “Death to Arabs” and “price tag.” The police did not initially identify any suspects.
It was the second attack in three weeks targeting the office of Dr. Khatem Hatar, who hails from the Mas’ade village in the Golan Heights. In the previous incident, vandals spray-painted the words “price tag” and a Star of David on the walls. Police have not made any arrests or identified any suspects in connection with the first attack.
“Price tag” refers to vandalism and other hate crimes usually carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists in ostensible retaliation for government policies against the settler movement. Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by nationalist vandals in recent years. The acts have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.
Last week the Rumanian Orthodox Church on Hahoma Hashlishit street in Jerusalem was defaced. In another incident vehicles and a dumpster in the central Israeli town of Lod were found to have been spray-painted with swastikas.
AFP contributed to this report.