The mother of two British-Israeli sisters who were murdered in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank has died today after she was left critically injured in the same attack.
Maia and Rina Dee, 20 and 15, were killed instantly when their car was targeted by a suspected Palestinian gunman near the settlement of Hamra in the Jordan Valley on Friday.
Their mother Lucy, 45, was travelling with the sisters when the attack happened and was left in a critical condition. But after three days of intensive care she passed away earlier today.
Officials at Hadassah University hospital confirmed her death this afternoon, and her family said they have decided to donate her organs in order to save the lives of others, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The husband and father of the victims, Rabbi Leo Dee, witnessed the shooting from another car and was unharmed.
The devastated father broke down in tears at Maia and Rina’s funeral on Sunday as he told how the memory of his daughters will be kept alive. Now, Rabbi Dee must grapple with the heartbreaking reality that his wife is no longer alive.
Lucy’s death coincides with that of 15-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Fayez Balhan, who was shot by Israeli forces in a raid on a refugee camp near Jericho in the occupied West Bank earlier today.
Both incidents come as violence continues to spiral following clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian Muslim worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque – a holy site for both Jews and Muslims – in Jerusalem’s old town last week amid Jewish Passover celebrations and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Mother Lucy Dee, 45, left, died as a result of her injuries following the drive-by shooting, three days after her daughters Rina (centre) and Maia (right) were killed in the attack
Three days after the attack, Lucy has died in hospital as a result of her injuries
Family members mourn next to the bodies of Maya and Rina during their funeral in the Israeli settlement of Kfar Etzion in the West Bank on Sunday
The mother and her two daughters were killed after suspected Palestinian gunmen opened fire on their car in the Jordan Valley on Friday. Pictured: Policemen at the scene
Rabbi Leo Dee, the father of Maya and Rina, broke down in tears as he paid tribute to his ‘beautiful angels’ at their funeral on Sunday
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Twitter: ‘On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, I send my heartfelt condolences to the Dee family on the death of the mother of the family, the late Leah (Lucy), who was murdered in the severe attack in the Bekaa last Friday, along with her two daughters Maya and the late Rina.’
The Dee family was originally from London but moved to Efrat in the West Bank nine years ago.
Lucy will be laid to rest tomorrow in Efrat, two days after the funeral of her daughters. Rabbi Dee is set to speak on his wife’s death at a press conference this evening.
In the meantime, family, friends and neighbours have continued to pay tribute to Lucy and her two late daughters.
Roi Indik, a neighbour of the family, wrote on social media: ‘Yesterday there was a heartbreaking funeral, and the mother’s funeral will take place tomorrow. How much pain, how much sorrow? It is indescribable.’
Merav Sela, a friend of Lucy, said: ‘Lucy had the smile, the laughter, the joy. The one who didn’t give up both Hebrew and English – that’s how we had funny conversations where I spoke in English and she in Hebrew. I always envied her for her never-ending energy.’
On Sunday, mourners, including school friends of Maia and Rina, gathered at the funeral in the settlement of Kfar Etzion in the West Bank and sang songs of grief under in the cemetery’s prayer hall.
In an emotional tribute, Rabbi Dee described his daughters as ‘flames’, adding they will ‘bring more light into the world’ after their deaths.
Choking back tears, Rabbi Dee added: ‘You have inspired and loved us. In return we will love you forever.’
The sisters’ bodies were covered in pieces of cloth embroidered with the star of David, one black and the other blue.
Rabbi Dee hugged his daughter’s corpses tightly, then sat with his three surviving children.
In his tribute to Maia he said: ‘You were always an angel and now you will always be our guardian angel.
‘You wanted to sign up for another year of national service, where you could really make a difference. But mummy and I wanted you to start your studies and maybe meet a special boy.
‘But you insisted that girls like you always do two years of volunteering so we waited to see what and where this would be.’
Turning to Rina, he said: ‘You were such a great student. Such a great friend. You dreamt of travelling the world, now you are travelling to heaven.’
Family friend and senior rabbi at Hendon United Synagogue in north-west London, Mordechai Ginsbury, told Sky News he was ‘devastated’.
‘To think that in a few moments, so senselessly and painfully, this has happened, such a tragic loss of life, of goodness, is just devastating,’ he said.
He added: ‘They were just a delightful family, full of commitment, vigour, passion, energy, and they did wonderful things for us in the community.’
Heartbreaking pictures from Sunday funeral service showed mourners screaming out in pain and embracing one another as they try to process the shock death of the sisters which came amid soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
British sisters Maia (left) and Rina (right) were murdered in a West Bank drive-by shooting on Friday
Friends and family members of Maia and Rina mourn during their funerals on Sunday
An aerial view shows friends and family of Maia and Rina gathering for their funeral
Many of those who attended the funeral on Sunday were teenagers – including some of Rina’s school friends
Songs of grief filled the cemetery as mourners gathered to pay their respects to the ‘much loved’ British sisters on Sunday
Relatives lean over the shrouded bodies of the sisters in grief at their funeral on Easter Sunday
Israeli forces gather near the Hamra junction in the northern part of the Jordan valley in the occupied West Bank following the shooting
Israeli medics and policemen check a damaged car at the scene of a shooting attack
The car that the victims were travelling in crashed after coming under fire, before the gunmen continued to shoot at close range.
Rabbi Dee, who gathered with relatives at the front of the prayer hall next to a low podium, moved to Israel from London with his family nine years ago and had been living in the West Bank settlement of Efrat.
Mr Dee was formerly a senior rabbi at the Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire and before that he was an assistant rabbi in Hendon, north London.
Mordechai Ginsbury, senior rabbi at Hendon United Synagogue, who is still in touch with the family said he was feeling ‘absolute devastation, pain, grief and shock’.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: ‘To think that in a few moments, so senselessly and painfully, this has happened, such a tragic loss of life, of goodness, is just devastating.’
Rabbi Ginsbury said he spoke to Rabbi Dee on Sunday night, where the father and husband admitted that ‘one of the things that is sustaining him is the blanket of warmth and love which is enveloping them within Israel and around the world’.
Mr Dee, who quit his job as a City investment banker to become a rabbi, believes that the killers will be ‘brought to justice’.
He previously revealed that he traced the car down with a tracking device, where he saw his wife being airlifted to hospital but his daughters were already dead.
London-born Rabbi Dee said: ‘My daughters were friends of each other as well as sisters. Now we are diminished. Maya was doing national service in the south, and was passionate about helping others. Rina is what you would call an A* pupil. We were proud of them.’
He added: ‘I don’t blame the terrorists as they will be brought to justice. I am more worried about the tensions between Jews in Israel. Some people think that the new religious government will suppress minority rights and become totalitarian. But this is not a risk as Judaism is about balancing love and justice.’
But violence continues to spiral in the West Bank following the deaths of Maia, Rina and now Lucy.
In a brief statement earlier today, the Palestinian health ministry said teenager Mohammed Fayez Balhan was killed ‘by occupation (Israeli) bullets in Jericho’, and ‘two people were injured by live bullets in the lower extremities’ and taken to hospital.
The Israeli army said its forces were operating in the Aqabat Jaber refugee camp near Jericho, without providing further details. A request for comment from AP was not returned.
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that clashes erupted when Israeli forces entered the camp and surrounded several houses, arresting five individuals during the raid.
Meanwhile, thousands of Israelis led by at least seven Cabinet ministers marched to an evacuated settlement in the West Bank – a defiant signal that Israel’s most right-wing government in history is determined to accelerate settlement building on occupied Palestinian lands despite international opposition.
Israeli police and armed forces are escorting the nationalist group on a march to Eviatar – an unauthorised Israeli settlement outpost in the northern West Bank that was evacuated by the previous government in 2021.
Visits to Eviatar were officially banned by the military since its evacuation, but that prohibition has been loosely enforced in recent months.
Now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the most religious and ultranationalist government in Israel’s history and wants to press on with establishing more Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, much to the disdain of Palestinian officials.
Several members of Netanyahu’s Cabinet, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir – both West Bank settlers – and at least 20 members of Israel’s parliament were expected to take part in the march.
Relatives during the funeral of a Palestinian who was killed during an Israeli raid, near Jericho in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank today
Relatives of 15-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Bilhan shed tears by his body at the morgue of Jericho Hospital
Israeli settlers march towards the outpost of Eviatar, near the Palestinian village of Beita, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, on April 10
An image on social media appeared to show worshippers with their hands cuffed behind their backs and laying the ground after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque last week
Muslim worshippers perform Friday prayers outside the Dome of Rock Mosque at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have soared following last week’s police raid on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The hilltop shrine is the emotional ground zero of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Jews, it is known as the Temple Mount, their faith’s holiest site and the place where two temples stood in antiquity.
For Muslims, it is known as the Noble Sanctuary, home of the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
Dozens of Jewish visitors entered the site on Monday escorted by Israeli police for a second consecutive day. These tours by religious and nationalist Jews have increased in size and frequency in recent years, raising fears by Palestinians that Israel may partition the site. Israel insists it has no intention of changing the longstanding arrangement that permits Jewish visits, but not worship, at the Muslim-administered shrine.
Last week, Palestinians barricaded themselves inside al-Aqsa with stones and firecrackers, demanding the right to pray there overnight, something Israel has in the past only allowed during the last ten days of Ramadan.
Police removed them by force, detaining hundreds and leaving dozens injured.
The violence at the shrine was followed by rocket fire by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, southern Lebanon and Syria starting Wednesday, and Israeli airstrikes targeting those areas. Recent days have also seen Palestinian attacks that killed two Israelis and an Italian tourist.
Palestinian attacks have killed at least 19 people in Israel since the start of the year, including one soldier. At least 92 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire so far this year.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Six-Day war. It has built dozens of settlements in the territory that are now home to more than 500,000 Jewish settlers.
Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. The Palestinians seek the West Bank, along with Gaza and east Jerusalem for their future independent state.