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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Liam James

Outpouring of grief at funeral of British-Israeli sisters killed in West Bank drive by shooting


Hundreds of people attended the funeral for two British-Israeli sisters killed in a shooting on Friday in the occupied West Bank.

Maia Dee, 20, and Rina Dee, 15, were buried following an emotional ceremony in the Jewish settlement of Kfar Etzion on Sunday.

Among the mourners was Itamar Ben-Gvir, national security minister in Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

The emotional service was held in the Jewish settlement of Kfar Etzion (AP)
Maia (left) and Rina Dee, were killed in a shooting in the West Bank (Family handout)

“May we and no-one else in the whole world ever know so much sorrow. Amen,” said the victims’ father, Lee Dee, a rabbi at the Zait Ranaan synagogue in Efrat, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

“Today the Jewish people have proven we are one,” he said. “A simple, quiet family is devastated. The whole country hurts.”

The two sisters’ 45-year-old mother was seriously wounded in the attack and remains in hospital in critical condition.

Violence flared this week after an Israeli police raid on Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a site sacred in Judaism and Islam, ahead of the rare convergence of Passover and Ramadan.

The incident prompted militants in Lebanon, and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, to fire a barrage of rockets into Israel, in a move Israeli security experts have said that was likely approved by Iran-backed Hezbollah. Israel followed with strikes on sites allegedly linked to the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza and southern Lebanon.

Mourners join the funeral procession for the two sisters (AFP/Getty)
There was an outpouring of grief from mourners at the funeral (AP)

Late on Saturday and early on Sunday, militants in Syria took the rare step of firing rockets toward Israel and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. A Damascus-based Palestinian group loyal to the Syrian government claimed responsibility for the first of two rounds of rockets, saying it was retaliating for the Al-Aqsa raids.

Israel responded with artillery fire into the area of Syria from where the rockets were fired. Later, the military said Israeli fighter jets attacked Syrian army sites, including a compound of Syria’s 4th Division and radar and artillery posts.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the violence in a telephone call with Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog late on Saturday, telling Mr Herzog that Muslims could not remain silent about the “provocations and threats” against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and said the hostilities that have spread to Gaza and Lebanon should not be allowed to escalate further.

“The whole country hurts” the service was told (AFP/Getty)
Hundreds gathered to say goodbye (REUTERS)

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, Lebanon’s armed Shia movement, met Palestinian Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Lebanon, the group said on Sunday, and discussed the Al-Aqsa events.

Three people were also killed over the weekend in Palestinian attacks in Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Despite the tensions, Ramadan prayers and Jewish Passover visits at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound passed without incident on Sunday.

Small groups of Jewish visitors under heavy police guard walked through the mosque compound, known in Judaism as Temple Mount, as thousands of worshippers gathered for the Passover holiday's special "Priestly Blessing" at the Western Wall below.

Israeli soldiers on alert after a rocket launched from Syria landed nearby, in Golan Heights (EPA)
A view from the Mount of Olives shows a group of Jewish visitors on the Al-Aqsa compound on Sunday (Reuters)

The Israeli military said that in light of the security situation, it would extend a closure of crossing points to the West Bank and Gaza until 13 April, when Passover ends.

Over 90 Palestinians and have been killed by Israeli fire so far this year, at least half of them affiliated with militant groups, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Palestinian attacks on Israelis have killed 19 people in that time. All but one were civilians.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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