The two Israeli sisters from the West Bank settlement of Efrat who were shot dead in a terror attack on Friday were named Saturday as 20-year-old Maia Dee, and 15-year-old Rina Dee.
Their mother Lucy (Lucianne), 48, remained hospitalized in critical condition, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital said Saturday evening.
The UK’s Foreign Office confirmed Friday that the three were British nationals. Family members from the UK were heading to Israel for the sisters’ funerals, slated to take place on Sunday afternoon.
The Dee sisters were to be buried at the cemetery of the Kfar Ezion settlement. In a statement, the Gush Etzion regional council said the procession would begin at 4:15 p.m. in Efrat. Mourners would then march to the Kfar Ezion cemetery, where the sisters would be buried at 5 p.m.
“Residents are asked to stand with flags on the side of the road and accompany them on their final journey,” the statement said.
In the Friday attack near the settlement of Hamra in the northern Jordan Valley, Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the victims’ car, causing it to crash into the highway’s shoulder. The terrorists then opened fire at the car again, killing the two sisters and critically wounding their mother.
The father of the family was traveling in a separate car just ahead. He turned back in the wake of the attack and was present as medics arrived to treat his family, the mayor of Efrat said.
British media and officials said the victims’ father was Rabbi Leo Dee, who had served in synagogues in London and the nearby Hertfordshire county before the family moved to Israel eight years ago.
Rabbi Dee told the BBC that he hasn’t been able to sleep since the deaths of his “beautiful and wonderful” daughters.
“Every time, I had nightmares and woke up, but the reality was worse than the nightmare, so I went back to sleep. That’s how it went,” he said.
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said on Twitter that “no words can describe the depth of our shock and sadness at the heart-breaking news.”
Mirvis added that the Dee family was “much loved in the Hendon and Radlett communities in the UK as well as in Israel, and well beyond.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the deadly attack.
The Israel Defense Forces launched a manhunt for the gunmen and other suspects who fled the scene, but they remained at large as of early Monday.
Surveillance camera footage of the attack showed the terrorists driving up to the victims’ car, with one man opening fire from the passenger seat.
The car with the gunmen then made a U-turn on the highway and fled the scene.
תיעוד הפיגוע בבקעת הירדן, הנשק המרכזי: חופש תנועה מלא למחבלים. pic.twitter.com/8oriXeHRQW
— תורת לחימה (@Torat_IDF) April 7, 2023
The Hamas terror group praised the deadly shooting, calling it “a natural response to the occupation’s ongoing crimes against Al-Aqsa Mosque and its barbaric aggression against Lebanon and the steadfast Gaza.”
Hamas warned Israel against “continuing its crimes against Al-Aqsa Mosque,” claiming the holy site must remain “purely Islamic, with no place for occupation or [Israeli] sovereignty.”
Several hours after the deadly shooting, an Arab Israeli man drove his car into a group of tourists near a promenade in Tel Aviv, killing an Italian man, Alessandro Parini, and wounding seven others.
Tensions rose across the region in recent days after tit-for-tat rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Israeli strikes, a major rocket barrage from Lebanon, clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, as well as a suspected Iranian drone launched from Syria earlier in the week.
There have also been several attacks in the West Bank, with three soldiers hurt in a car-ramming attack last weekend, and two more soldiers hurt in separate shooting attacks on Wednesday and Thursday.
Also during the past week, two soldiers were injured, one seriously, in a stabbing near the Tzrifin military base in central Israel.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which this year once again coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover, is known to be a period of high tensions between Israeli forces and Palestinians. Tens of thousands of worshipers visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque — Islam’s third holiest site, located in the compound that is the most sacred to Jews — throughout the month, regularly leading to a spike in tensions and violence with Israel.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Saturday ordered the IDF to extend a closure on West Bank and Gaza Strip crossings for Palestinians, preventing them from taking part in prayers at the Temple Mount’s Al-Aqsa Mosque in the coming days despite the ongoing month of Ramadan.
The Passover closure was initially meant to last from 5 p.m. Wednesday until Saturday evening, with another closure on the last day of Passover beginning on April 11 and lasting until April 12. Following an assessment, Gallant ordered the current closure to be extended until April 12. Exceptions will be made for humanitarian and other outstanding cases.
The IDF was also to bolster forces across the West Bank, as well as back up police forces in central Israel.