'Justice will be done', says father of Rina and Maya Dee, British sisters killed in West Bank shooting

7 April 2023, 17:16 | Updated: 9 April 2023, 09:18

Leo Dee's daughters were killed in a shooting on the West Bank
Leo Dee's daughters were killed in a shooting on the West Bank. Picture: Handout/LinkedIn

By Kit Heren

The father of two British-Israeli sisters killed in a shooting in the West Bank has said that he is "confident that justice will be done".

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Rina and Maya Dee, aged 15 and 20, who moved with their family from the UK to Israel in 2014, were shot dead in an attack on their car near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on Friday, as violence worsened in the country.

Their father, Rabbi Leo Dee, who used to be a senior rabbi at Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire and assistant rabbi in Hendon, said that he was "saddened about the current political tension in Israel which is caused by a lack of trust in its first religious zionist government."

He added: "Some people think that a religious government will suppress minority rights and become totalitarian.

"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."

The aftermath of the shooting
The aftermath of the shooting. Picture: Getty

Mr Dee was in a separate car during the attack, while their mother Lucianne, who was with her daughters, was seriously injured and remains in hospital.

In a statement on Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the family "on behalf of all the citizens of Israel".

He added: "We all send our condolences and strength to this dear family in this moment of great sorrow."

The aftermath of a car-ramming attack in Tel Aviv
The aftermath of a car-ramming attack in Tel Aviv. Picture: Getty

Separately, Britons were among five injured when a car rammed into a group of people near a popular seaside park in Tel Aviv, also killing an Italian man.

Israel-based journalist Nicolas Rouger described the car attack to LBC: "It's a pretty popular spot with locals and tourists... as you can imagine a car went on the sidewalk, basically on the pavement and took out a few people in kind of an uncontrolled manner.

Israeli police gather next to a car used in a ramming attack in Tel Aviv
Israeli police gather next to a car used in a ramming attack in Tel Aviv. Picture: Getty

"It then turned over, and the person that tried to come out apparently reached, according to the police, reached for a gun, a weapon of some sort, and was then - the Israeli euphemism is 'neutralised' - by a policeman that was on the scene and several other Tel Aviv municipal inspectors."

Mr Rouger said that the country is "in the worst time for violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the second intifada, since the wave of suicide bombing and confrontations and violence that took place in the early 2000s.

"We have 90 Palestinians that have been killed since the beginning of the year, which is the worst year, I think since since 2008. There's more than a thousand Palestinians in administrative detention."

Israeli police gather next to the car
Israeli police gather next to the car. Picture: Getty

British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan said: "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."

Meanwhile reports of the West Bank shooting said that one sister was aged 15, and the other was in her 20s. Israeli medics had previously reported two women in their 20s were killed and a 45-year-old was seriously injured.

The family lived in Efrat, a settlement close to Bethlehem, according to its mayor.

"With great sorrow we received an update on a shocking terrorist attack in which terrorists shot a car including a mother and her two daughters, residents of Efrat," Oded Revivi said.

"The two girls were murdered and the mother is in (a) critical condition and we all pray for her quick recovery."

The 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.

"The UK calls for all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions."

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."

Violence has flared up in Israel after rocket attacks blamed on Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, and an Israeli police raid on the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israel has also hit targets in Lebanon, where rockets had also been fired from, in a serious escalation of tensions in the region.

Read more: Benjamin Netanyahu halts judicial reforms to 'prevent civil war' after days of protests in Israel over plans

Israel's military set up roadblocks to catch those responsible
Israel's military set up roadblocks to catch those responsible. Picture: Getty

Experts believe the unrest at the border with Israel and Lebanon is the worst since the war against Hezbollah - a militant group within Lebanon - in 2006.

Israel says its airstrikes only hit militant groups in Lebanon.

It is reported that the two women came under fire while in the car, which was rammed. Israeli authorities blamed a Palestinian for the attack.

The white car appeared to have been heavily damaged from the attack, with police seen standing around the vehicle which was on the side of the road close to Hamra.

A red car was also pictured nearby, damaged on its left hand side.

The attack came after violence between Israel and militant groups in Gaza and Lebanon
The attack came after violence between Israel and militant groups in Gaza and Lebanon. Picture: Getty

The women were pulled from the car unconscious before they died.

Israel's military said it is searching for who was responsible and roadblocks were set up in the area.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law.

They often become the focal point of violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians when tensions flare up. Pro-settler politicians hold key positions in the government after far-right politicians joined a coalition with the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

No group has taken responsibility for the killings, but a Hamas spokesman said the attack was retaliation for the "crimes committed by Israel in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the West Bank".

A 30-year-old Italian man was killed in the attack, but reports suggested Britons were among at least seven people injured. Israel's rescue service said a 74-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl were receiving medical treatment for mild to moderate injuries.

Police said they shot and killed the driver of the car and identified him as a 45-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel from the village of Kafr Qassem.