Two British-born sisters killed in a shooting in the West Bank have been identified amid a wave of violence in the region, ITV News' Ellie Pitt reports
Two British-Israeli sisters killed in a shooting in the occupied West Bank have been named as Rina and Maia Dee.
The two London-born siblings, aged 15 and 20, respectively, were shot dead in an attack on their car near the Israeli settlement of Hamra in the Jordan Valley.
Their 45-year-old mother, Lucy, was seriously wounded, and their father witnessed the incident from a separate car following behind, local officials said.
They were on a family hiking trip at the time of the attack by Palestinian assailants on Friday, which came after Israel launched retaliatory air strikes at Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
Tensions have been heightened by days of fighting at Jerusalem’s most holy site during the rare convergence of Ramadan, Passover and Easter.
Rina and Maia's father was rabbi Leo Dee, who moved to Israel with his family in 2014. In a statement shared with the Telegraph, he said the family was "saddened" by the current political situation in Israel.
“Some people think that a religious government will suppress minority rights and become totalitarian,” he said. “But this is not a risk in Israel as religious Jews simply believe in balancing love and justice. For our part, we have felt a warm hug of love from Jews in Israel and beyond and we are confident that justice will be done.”
According to The Telegraph, Rabbi Dee was formerly the senior rabbi at Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire and assistant rabbi in Hendon, north London.
Identifying the sisters for the first time, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “In these moments, if the family is fighting for its life, and together with the entire nation of Israel, I pray for its safety, and we all send our condolences and strength to this dear family in this moment of great sorrow.”
The family lived in the Efrat settlement, near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, according to the settlement’s mayor Oded Revivi.
Britain's chief rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis tweeted: "No words can describe the depth of our shock and sadness at the heart-breaking news of the murder by terrorists in Israel of Maya & Rina Dee, daughters of Rebbetzen Lucy, who is in a critical condition & Rabbi Leo Dee, my dear colleagues.
"They were much loved in the Hendon and Radlett communities in the UK as well as in Israel, and well beyond.
"We pray for a refuah shelema for Rebbetzen Lucy and also for those injured in the terrorist attack yesterday on the promenade in Tel Aviv."
Late on Friday, an Italian tourist was killed and five other Italian and British citizens were wounded when a car rammed a group in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
It is thought that five British nationals have been killed or wounded in Israel and the West Bank this week as tensions in the region escalate. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly held a call on Saturday with his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, to discuss the “appalling” attacks.
Middle East minister Lord Ahmad said: “I condemn yesterday’s attacks in the West Bank, killing two British-Israeli nationals and injuring one other, and in Tel Aviv where an Italian national was killed and British nationals were injured.” British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan added: “My thoughts are with those affected by another horrific terror attack last night in Tel Aviv, including one Italian tourist killed. “British people are amongst the injured. We are in touch with the hospital and will offer our support.”
The Hamas militant group that rules Gaza praised both incidents as retaliation for Israeli raids earlier this week on the Al-Aqsa mosque.
The Foreign Office released a statement saying it was “saddened” to hear about the deaths of the two British-Israelis and the “serious injuries sustained by a third individual”. “The UK calls for all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions,” it added. Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said: “I am shocked by reports of the killing of two British sisters in an appalling and cowardly attack in the West Bank. “My thoughts are with their family and loved ones. More civilian victims of this cycle of violence show the urgent need for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate.” The Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon came after militants fired nearly three dozen rockets from there.
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