Maia and Rina Dee named as British-Israeli sisters killed in a West Bank shooting
Two British-Israeli sisters were killed in a shooting incident in the occupied West Bank. They were named Rina Dee and Maia 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 originally children of Rabbi Leo Dee from London who called them “wonderful”.
Leah, their mother, is still in critical condition at the hospital.
Rabbi Dee stated that two bullets were removed from the neck and spine of his wife during surgery.
Maia, who was 20, was volunteering in high school for national service. Rina, their younger sister was 15.
After being shot at by gunmen, their car was driven off the road while their father drove ahead in another vehicle.
He spoke to BBC about his daughters, calling them smart, beautiful, and popular. He stated that he had not been able to sleep since the deaths of his daughters.
“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.”
He said Maia was “wonderful, beautiful, had a lot of friends…she was very keen to do a second year of volunteering”.
Rina, he said, was “beautiful, fun, very smart, top grades in every subject, very popular with friends, sporty…very responsible, she would take responsibility for many things”.
“When it came to sweeping out the youth club floor, if other people didn’t turn up, she would be there by herself for three hours on a Friday morning, to make sure it was done.”
The wider family was traveling in three cars for a holiday in Tiberias. Rabbi Dee heard the news of the attack before realizing his own family was 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 realized. 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.
Rabbi Mordechai Ginsbury, from the Hendon United Synagogue in north London, said he spoke briefly with his close friend Rabbi Dee ahead of the daughters’ funerals.
“Naturally, as are we all, [he was] devastated, shocked at how just in a few moments with an act of absolute evil and madness – insanity – things can change around,” he told the BBC.
“The loss of two gorgeous daughters, and his wife now lying critically ill in a hospital in Jerusalem.
“But through the sadness there’s still that determination that he has to find any positives one can find, to try and be strong for his remaining children.”
Rabbi Ginsburg added that Rabbi Dee felt “supported and embraced by a blanket of warmth and love” from within Israel and from people across the world who had contacted him.
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 the 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.
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 licenses 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.”