Maia and Rina Dee named as British-Israeli sisters killed in West Bank shooting

Two British-Israeli sisters killed in a shooting in the occupied West Bank have been named as Maia and Rina Dee.

The sisters were killed on Friday afternoon near the Hamra Junction in the north of the Jordan Valley, as they drove to Tiberias.

They were the children of Rabbi Leo Dee, originally from London, who described them as “wonderful”.

Their mother, Leah, remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Rabbi Dee said two bullets had been removed from his wife’s spine and neck during surgery.

Maia was 20 and volunteering for national service in a high school, while younger sister Rina was 15.

Their car was driven off the road after being shot at by gunmen while their father had been driving ahead in a separate vehicle.

Speaking to the BBC, he described his daughters as beautiful, smart and popular. He said he hadn’t been able to sleep since their deaths.

“Every time, I had nightmares and woke up,” he said, “but the reality was worse than the nightmare, so I went back to sleep. Recurring nightmares… that’s how it went.”

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The wider family were travelling in three cars for a holiday in Tiberias. Rabbi Dee heard news of the attack before realising his own family were involved.

He called his wife and daughters, but they did not answer. They then found a picture online of the car that was attacked.

“And we could just see one of our suitcases in the back seat,” he said. “There was a massive panic and screaming.”

He then drove to the scene and had to wait to identify whether his “worst nightmare” was realised. He was not allowed access but was handed his daughter’s ID card, which confirmed the news.

The family live in the West Bank settlement Efrat, its mayor has said. The sisters’ funeral will be held on Sunday.

Rabbi Dee said he was proud of his three remaining children.

“We are a smaller family but we are stronger from it and we will get through this,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the incident as a terror attack, sent his condolences to the family in a tweet naming the sisters.

The UK’s chief rabbi, Sir Ephraim Mirvis, said that “no words can describe the depth of our shock and sadness at the heart-breaking news”.

Writing on Twitter, he said the two sisters were the children of British Rabbi Dee and his wife Lucy, which is understood to be their mother Leah’s English name.

“They were much loved in the Hendon and Radlett communities in the UK as well as in Israel, and well beyond,” he added.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said they were “deeply shocked and saddened” at their deaths, adding that their father had previously been rabbi at Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on Friday he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, following the attacks and that anyone worried about friends or relatives in Israel should contact the Foreign Office.

Israeli medics and police check a damaged car at the scene of a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (7 April 2023)
Image caption,
The Israeli military said after the shooting that troops were blocking roads in the area and searching for the attackers
Also on Friday, an Italian tourist was killed and seven other people were wounded, including three Britons, in a suspected car-ramming attack in Tel Aviv.

People gathering in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest controversial judicial reforms proposed by the Israeli government held a minute’s silence for the sisters and the Italian tourist.

Both incidents took place hours after Israeli warplanes carried out air strikes in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip on targets belonging to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The military said the strikes were a response to a barrage of 34 rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel on Thursday, which it blamed on the group.

That rocket barrage from Lebanon followed two nights of Israeli police raids at the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, which caused anger across the region.

Hamas did not claim it was behind the shooting of the British-Israeli women but praised it as “a natural response to [Israel’s] ongoing crimes against the al-Aqsa mosque and its barbaric aggression against Lebanon and the steadfast Gaza”.

After the two sisters were shot, Israel Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai called on all Israelis with firearms licences to start carrying their weapons.

Responding to the news of the sisters’ deaths on Friday, the UK Foreign Office said: “We are saddened to hear about the deaths of two British-Israeli citizens and the serious injuries sustained by a third individual.”

SOurce: BBC


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