- Written by Lucy Williamson and Marita Moloney
- in the West Bank and London
A funeral is being held for two British-Israeli sisters killed in a shooting in the occupied West Bank.
Maya and Rina Dee, 20 and 15, were killed on Friday when their car was attacked in the northern Jordan Valley.
Their mother, Leah, remains in critical condition after surgery to remove bullets from her neck and spine.
At the sisters’ funeral at Kfar Etzion Cemetery, chants of mourning filled the prayer hall.
Low, rhythmic songs swelled and swayed with the crowd crammed under the white rafters.
Many of those present at the funeral are teenagers – some from the school Rina went to. In the foreground, on a low platform, the family gathered, conversing together and holding each other long moments in silence.
The bodies were taken out, one covered with black cloth, and one with blue – the Star of David embroidered with gold and silver.
Their father embraced them, then sat back, his face aching, and reached out to touch his three remaining children.
The family lives in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, and moved from London nine years ago.
The car in which the sisters and their mother were traveling was driven off the road after being shot. The eldest family was traveling in three cars for a holiday in Tiberias.
Speaking to the BBC on Saturday night, Rabbi Dee described his daughters as beautiful, intelligent and popular. He said he had not been able to sleep since they died.
He said, “Every time I had nightmares and woke up, but the reality was worse than the nightmare, so I went back to sleep. Recurring nightmares… That’s how it went.”
He said Maya, who volunteered for National Service at a high school, was “brilliant and beautiful and had a lot of friends… She was very eager to do a second year of volunteering”.
He said Rina was “beautiful, jovial, very intelligent, with high marks in every subject, very popular with friends, and athletic…very responsible and will be responsible for many things.”
“When it came to cleaning the youth club floor, if the others didn’t show up, she would be there by herself for three hours on Friday morning, to make sure it was done,” he said.
Rabbi Dee said he heard the news of the attack without realizing his family was involved.
He called his wife and daughters, but they did not answer. Then he saw a photo online of the car that had been attacked.
“We can only see one of our bags in the back seat,” he said. “There was great panic and screaming.”
Then head to the scene. He was not allowed in but was given his daughter’s ID, which confirms the worst.
Rabbi Dee said that he and his three remaining children “will get through this.”
Rabbi Mordechai Gainsbury, of Hendon United Synagogue in north London, said he spoke briefly with close friend Rabbi Dee before the funerals.
Of course, as we are all, [he was] Shattered, shocked at how in a few moments by an act of evil and sheer madness – madness – things can change,” he told the BBC.
The loss of two adorable daughters, and his wife is now in a critical condition in a hospital in Jerusalem.
“But through grief, there is still this determination to have to find whatever positives one can find, to try and be strong for the sake of his remaining children.”
Rabbi Gainsbury added that Rabbi Dee felt “supported and embraced with a blanket of warmth and love” from within Israel and from people who came into contact with him around the world.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the incident as a terrorist attack, sent his condolences to the family in a tweet mentioning the sisters on Saturday.
The UK’s chief rabbi, Sir Ephraim Mirvis, said that “no words can describe the depth of our shock and grief at the heartbreaking news”.
After the sisters were shot, the Israeli police commissioner, Kobi Shabtai, called on all Israelis with firearms licenses to begin carrying their weapons.
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