Father of British-Israeli sisters slain in West Bank slams gunman
‘What did this terrorist achieve?’ Heartbroken rabbi defiantly slams the gunman who murdered his wife and two daughters in West Bank drive-by shooting
- Maia and Rina Dee, 20 and 15, died instantly when car was shot at in West Bank
- Comes as Israeli forces shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the West Bank
The devastated father of two British-Israeli sisters who were killed in a brutal West Bank drive-by shooting has slammed the gunman who murdered the girls and their mother.
Rabbi Leo Dee told a press conference from Erfat Settlement that his daughters Rina and Maia, 15 and 20, were killed by 20 bullets from a Kalashnikov rifle and his wife Lucy was shot twice.
He tragically described how their ‘family of seven is now a family of four’ after his wife died from her wounds.
Speaking at the press conference, broadcast on the BBC, the heartbroken rabbi said: ‘This anonymous terrorist with a Kalashnikov, what did he achieve, temporary victory? Where’s his future? Is he spending time with his children, to teach them decent life values? Does he even have children or is he a child himself? Is he the product of a broken culture that doesn’t differentiate between good and evil so he doesn’t see a future for himself?’
He added: ‘We will never accept terror as legitimate… There is no such thing as a moral equivalent between terrorist and victim. The terrorist is always bad.’
Three days after the attack, Lucy has died in hospital as a result of her injuries
Mother Lucy Dee, 45, left, died as a result of her injuries following the drive-by shooting, three days after her daughters Rina (centre) and Maia (right) were killed in the attack
Rabbi Dee said he had been informed of an attack and called his family before realising he had received a missed call from his daughter Maia.
He continued: ‘I hadn’t noticed it ring, I hadn’t picked up the phone, the feeling she called me during the attack and I wasn’t able to speak to her will come back and haunt me for a while.’
Rabbi Dee said that he saw a photograph on Instagram of his car with a bullet hole in it, and the family’s suitcases with blood on them, which compelled him to drive ‘like a lunatic’ to the scene.
He said that he was able to identify his daughter Maia at the scene after police produced her identity card, and he then drove to the hospital where his wife had been taken.
He said: ‘I went numb. I didn’t cry yet, I was highly rational. I drove another hour and a half to the hospital.
Netanyahu vows to ‘restore calm and security’ to Israel amid soaring tensions
Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he would ‘restore calm and security’ to the country, after rising tensions over the last week in the Middle East.
Tensions have mounted in Israel since last week, with heavy clashes, shootings, rocket strikes and a car-ramming attack marring a period when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coincides with the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter.
The day after Israeli police stormed the prayer hall of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque – Islam’s third-holiest site – in a pre-dawn raid, more than 30 rockets were fired from Lebanese soil into Israel, an attack which the Israeli army said was most likely carried out by the Palestinian armed movement Hamas.
Israel then bombarded Gaza and southern Lebanon, targeting ‘terror infrastructures’ that it said belonged to Hamas.
‘We will not allow the terrorist Hamas to establish itself in Lebanon’, by acting on ‘all fronts,’ Netanyahu said on Monday.
In the same news conference Netanyahu also announced that he would reverse his earlier decision to sack his defence minister, Yoav Gallant.
‘There have been disputes between us, even difficult disputes on certain subjects, but I have decided to leave these disputes behind us,’ he said.
‘Gallant remains in his post and we will continue to work together for the safety of the citizens of Israel.’
‘Lucy had had two bullets – one through the brain stem and one lodged at the top of her spine. There was an operation. There was reason for hope. But alas our family of seven is now a family of four.’
Rabbi Dee described his wife and daughters as ‘three beautiful innocent young ladies in the prime of their lives’ and urged people to post images of the Israeli flag on social media in their memory.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the British Jewish community have expressed their condolences to the family.
Mr Netanyahu posted on Twitter: ‘On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, I send my heartfelt condolences to the Dee family on the death of the mother of the family, the late Leah (Lucy), who was murdered in the severe attack in the Bekaa last Friday, along with her two daughters Maya and the late Rina.’
The Board of Deputies of British Jews posted: ‘Our hearts go out to the Dee family at the terrible news that Lucy Dee has now also passed away after the Palestinian terror attack on Friday that killed two of her daughters, Maia and Rina. May their memories be for eternal blessing.’
Mrs Dee, 45, was seriously injured in the attack on their car near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on Friday and on Monday, Israel’s Hadassah hospital announced that she had died, according to reports by AP.
Rabbi Dee was formerly the senior rabbi at Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire and assistant rabbi in Hendon, north London.
The sisters were born in London and the family moved to Israel in 2014, according to The Telegraph.
The Radlett United Synagogue told the PA news agency: ‘The Radlett Jewish community is devastated at the terrible news of Rebbetzen Lucy Dee’s passing, in addition to the deaths of her and Rabbi Leo Dee’s daughters, Maia and Rina.
‘The community greatly admired the inspiring Dee family during their time at Radlett. Lucy and her daughters were idealistic, pure-hearted and kind.
‘We and the world have been robbed of their presence, but their light can never be extinguished. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Rabbi Leo and his children, Keren, Tali and Yehudah.’
The family lived in the Efrat settlement, near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, according to the settlement’s mayor, Oded Revivi.
The three family members were among six people caught up in the attack carried out by Palestinian assailants.
The family was in one of three cars on their way to Tiberias in the Galilee for a family holiday.
In footage from the funeral on Sunday, broadcast on Sky News, Rabbi Dee said: ‘Maia and Rina, you have loved us, you have inspired us, and in turn we will love you forever.
‘May your souls be bound in the bond of eternal life.
‘And may we, and no-one else in the world, ever know so much sorrow.’
Israeli-British Rabbi Leo Dee, whose two daughters died in a West Bank shooting, speaks in the Jewish settlement of Efrat after his wife, who was seriously wounded in Friday’s attack, has now been pronounced dead
Family members mourn next to the bodies of Maya and Rina during their funeral in the Israeli settlement of Kfar Etzion in the West Bank on Sunday
The mother and her two daughters were killed after suspected Palestinian gunmen opened fire on their car in the Jordan Valley on Friday. Pictured: Policemen at the scene
Rabbi Leo Dee, the father of Maya and Rina, broke down in tears as he paid tribute to his ‘beautiful angels’ at their funeral on Sunday
Officials at Hadassah University hospital confirmed the mother’s death this afternoon, and her family said they have decided to donate her organs in order to save the lives of others, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Rabbi Dee broke down in tears at Maia and Rina’s funeral on Sunday as he told how the memory of his daughters will be kept alive. Now, Rabbi Dee must grapple with the heartbreaking reality that his wife is no longer alive.
Lucy’s death coincides with that of 15-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Fayez Balhan, who was shot by Israeli forces in a raid on a refugee camp near Jericho in the occupied West Bank earlier on Monday.
Both incidents come as violence continues to spiral following clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian Muslim worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque – a holy site for both Jews and Muslims – in Jerusalem’s old town last week amid Jewish Passover celebrations and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Lucy will be laid to rest tomorrow in Efrat, two days after the funeral of her daughters. Rabbi Dee is set to speak on his wife’s death at a press conference this evening.
In the meantime, family, friends and neighbours have continued to pay tribute to Lucy and her two late daughters.
READ MORE: Israeli forces kill Palestinian teen and injure two others amid soaring tensions in West Bank where two British sisters were shot dead
Roi Indik, a neighbour of the family, wrote on social media: ‘Yesterday there was a heartbreaking funeral, and the mother’s funeral will take place tomorrow. How much pain, how much sorrow? It is indescribable.’
Merav Sela, a friend of Lucy, said: ‘Lucy had the smile, the laughter, the joy. The one who didn’t give up both Hebrew and English – that’s how we had funny conversations where I spoke in English and she in Hebrew. I always envied her for her never-ending energy.’
On Sunday, mourners, including school friends of Maia and Rina, gathered at the funeral in the settlement of Kfar Etzion in the West Bank and sang songs of grief under in the cemetery’s prayer hall.
In an emotional tribute, Rabbi Dee described his daughters as ‘flames’, adding they will ‘bring more light into the world’ after their deaths.
Choking back tears, Rabbi Dee added: ‘You have inspired and loved us. In return we will love you forever.’
The sisters’ bodies were covered in pieces of cloth embroidered with the star of David, one black and the other blue.
Rabbi Dee hugged his daughter’s corpses tightly, then sat with his three surviving children.
In his tribute to Maia he said: ‘You were always an angel and now you will always be our guardian angel.
‘You wanted to sign up for another year of national service, where you could really make a difference. But mummy and I wanted you to start your studies and maybe meet a special boy.
‘But you insisted that girls like you always do two years of volunteering so we waited to see what and where this would be.’
Turning to Rina, he said: ‘You were such a great student. Such a great friend. You dreamt of travelling the world, now you are travelling to heaven.’
Family friend and senior rabbi at Hendon United Synagogue in north-west London, Mordechai Ginsbury, told Sky News he was ‘devastated’.
‘To think that in a few moments, so senselessly and painfully, this has happened, such a tragic loss of life, of goodness, is just devastating,’ he said.
He added: ‘They were just a delightful family, full of commitment, vigour, passion, energy, and they did wonderful things for us in the community.’
Ginsbury said he spoke to Rabbi Dee on Sunday night, where the father and husband admitted that ‘one of the things that is sustaining him is the blanket of warmth and love which is enveloping them within Israel and around the world’.
Heartbreaking pictures from Sunday funeral service showed mourners screaming out in pain and embracing one another as they try to process the shock death of the sisters which came amid soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
British sisters Maia (left) and Rina (right) were murdered in a West Bank drive-by shooting on Friday
Friends and family members of Maia and Rina mourn during their funerals on Sunday
An aerial view shows friends and family of Maia and Rina gathering for their funeral
Many of those who attended the funeral on Sunday were teenagers – including some of Rina’s school friends
Songs of grief filled the cemetery as mourners gathered to pay their respects to the ‘much loved’ British sisters on Sunday
Relatives lean over the shrouded bodies of the sisters in grief at their funeral on Easter Sunday
Israeli forces gather near the Hamra junction in the northern part of the Jordan valley in the occupied West Bank following the shooting
Israeli medics and policemen check a damaged car at the scene of a shooting attack
The car that the victims were travelling in crashed after coming under fire, before the gunmen continued to shoot at close range.
Rabbi Dee gathered with relatives at the front of the prayer hall next to a low podium.
Mr Dee was formerly a senior rabbi at the Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire and before that he was an assistant rabbi in Hendon, north London.
Mr Dee, who quit his job as a City investment banker to become a rabbi, believes that the killers will be ‘brought to justice’.
He previously revealed that he traced the car down with a tracking device, where he saw his wife being airlifted to hospital but his daughters were already dead.
London-born Rabbi Dee said: ‘My daughters were friends of each other as well as sisters. Now we are diminished. Maya was doing national service in the south, and was passionate about helping others. Rina is what you would call an A* pupil. We were proud of them.’
He added: ‘I don’t blame the terrorists as they will be brought to justice. I am more worried about the tensions between Jews in Israel. Some people think that the new religious government will suppress minority rights and become totalitarian. But this is not a risk as Judaism is about balancing love and justice.’
But violence continues to spiral in the West Bank following the deaths of Maia, Rina and now Lucy.
In a brief statement earlier on Monday, the Palestinian health ministry said teenager Mohammed Fayez Balhan was killed ‘by occupation (Israeli) bullets in Jericho’, and ‘two people were injured by live bullets in the lower extremities’ and taken to hospital.
The Israeli army said its forces were operating in the Aqabat Jaber refugee camp near Jericho, without providing further details. A request for comment from AP was not returned.
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that clashes erupted when Israeli forces entered the camp and surrounded several houses, arresting five individuals during the raid.
Meanwhile, thousands of Israelis led by at least seven Cabinet ministers marched to an evacuated settlement in the West Bank – a defiant signal that Israel’s most right-wing government in history is determined to accelerate settlement building on occupied Palestinian lands despite international opposition.
Relatives during the funeral of a Palestinian who was killed during an Israeli raid, near Jericho in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank
Relatives of 15-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Bilhan shed tears by his body at the morgue of Jericho Hospital
Israeli settlers march towards the outpost of Eviatar, near the Palestinian village of Beita, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, on April 10
An image on social media appeared to show worshippers with their hands cuffed behind their backs and laying the ground after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque last week
Muslim worshippers perform Friday prayers outside the Dome of Rock Mosque at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Israeli police and armed forces are escorting the nationalist group on a march to Eviatar – an unauthorised Israeli settlement outpost in the northern West Bank that was evacuated by the previous government in 2021.
Visits to Eviatar were officially banned by the military since its evacuation, but that prohibition has been loosely enforced in recent months.
Now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the most religious and ultranationalist government in Israel’s history and wants to press on with establishing more Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, much to the disdain of Palestinian officials.
Several members of Netanyahu’s Cabinet, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir – both West Bank settlers – and at least 20 members of Israel’s parliament were expected to take part in the march.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have soared following last week’s police raid on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The hilltop shrine is the emotional ground zero of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Jews, it is known as the Temple Mount, their faith’s holiest site and the place where two temples stood in antiquity.
For Muslims, it is known as the Noble Sanctuary, home of the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
Dozens of Jewish visitors entered the site on Monday escorted by Israeli police for a second consecutive day. These tours by religious and nationalist Jews have increased in size and frequency in recent years, raising fears by Palestinians that Israel may partition the site. Israel insists it has no intention of changing the longstanding arrangement that permits Jewish visits, but not worship, at the Muslim-administered shrine.
Last week, Palestinians barricaded themselves inside al-Aqsa with stones and firecrackers, demanding the right to pray there overnight, something Israel has in the past only allowed during the last ten days of Ramadan.
Police removed them by force, detaining hundreds and leaving dozens injured.
The violence at the shrine was followed by rocket fire by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, southern Lebanon and Syria starting Wednesday, and Israeli airstrikes targeting those areas. Recent days have also seen Palestinian attacks that killed two Israelis and an Italian tourist.
Palestinian attacks have killed at least 19 people in Israel since the start of the year, including one soldier. At least 92 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire so far this year.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Six-Day war. It has built dozens of settlements in the territory that are now home to more than 500,000 Jewish settlers.
Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. The Palestinians seek the West Bank, along with Gaza and east Jerusalem for their future independent state.
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