UK's Chief Rabbi pays tribute to two sisters murdered in West Bank

‘No words can describe the depth of our shock and sadness’: Britain’s Chief Rabbi pays tribute to two ‘much loved’ British sisters murdered in West Bank drive-by shooting as funeral is set to be held in Efrat today

  • West Bank shooting left two British nationals dead and mother in hospital 
  • Violent clashes between factions escalate in wake of police raids on mosque

Britain’s Chief Rabbi has paid tribute to the two ‘much loved’ British sisters who were murdered in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank on Friday afternoon.

Sir Ephraim Mirvis said that ‘no words can describe the depth of our shock and sadness at the heart-breaking news’. 

Sisters Maya, 20, and Rina, 16, were fatally shot as they drove to the Sea of Galilee for a family holiday from their home near Jerusalem, while their mother Lucianne, 45, remains in a critical condition in hospital. 

The funeral for the sisters is due to be held today in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, where the family are based.

Paying tribute to the sisters on Twitter, Chief Rabbi Mervis said: ‘No words can describe the depth of our shock and sadness at the heart-breaking news of the murder by terrorists in Israel of Maya & Rina Dee, daughters of Rebbetzen Lucy, who is in a critical condition & Rabbi Leo Dee, my dear colleagues.

‘They were much loved in the Hendon and Radlett communities in the UK as well as in Israel, and well beyond. We pray for a refuah shelema for Rebbetzen Lucy and also for those injured in the terrorist attack yesterday on the promenade in Tel Aviv.’

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis (pictured) has paid tribute to the two ‘much loved’ British sisters who were killed on Friday

British sisters Maya, 20, and Rina, 16, were murdered in a West Bank drive-by shooting on Friday

Sir Ephraim Mirvis said that ‘no words can describe the depth of our shock and sadness at the heart-breaking news’

Father and husband Leo Dee, 51, who quit his job as a City investment banker to become a rabbi and move to Israel, 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. 

Speaking from his wife’s hospital bedside, Mr Dee, who was formerly a senior rabbi at the Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire, told The Mail on Sunday that he was travelling with other family members in a car some distance ahead when a relative called to ask if he knew ‘about the shooting and if the family was OK’.

‘I said everyone was fine, but when I called my wife and two daughters there was no answer.’

In panic, he turned on a Google tracking device which allows parents to follow their children’s mobile phones. It led him to the Hamra settlement, 30 miles north of Jerusalem, where he saw his wife Lucy being airlifted from the wreckage.

READ MORE: ‘We will strike our enemies and they will pay’: Israel pounds Gaza and Lebanon after Netanyahu vowed ‘aggressive response’ to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants – as fresh violence breaks out at Islam holy site


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.

‘My wife’s condition is very serious. We are praying, and people around the world are praying, that she will get better.’

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.’

The Dee family left Britain in 2014, having returned there from Israel in 2008. They then moved back to Jerusalem, where Rabbi Dee is a highly respected author and academic. On leaving the Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire he said: ‘It has been a tremendous honour for Lucy and I to have lived in this warm and friendly community. We will cherish this period of our lives.’

Friends described the sisters as ‘beautiful, kind and happy young women’. 

Some 50 teenagers linked arms in Efrat, with one saying they were ‘mourning and sending love and strength to the family of their friends’.

Rabbi Dee said he had lived in Israel prior to returning to Britain in 2008, but the family had missed it ‘intensely’ and decided to return. 

‘We love the Jewish state, the huge array of Jewish learning institutions, the fact that the buses stop on Shabbat, the ability to buy kosher food at any supermarket and a culture that is fully in tune with our own,’ he added.

The funeral for the sisters will be held in Efrat today. Pictured: Israeli medics and police check a damaged car at the scene of a shooting

Israeli forces gather near the Hamra junction in the northern part of the Jordan valley in the occupied West Bank following a shooting attack on April 7, 2023

Israeli soldiers are seen near the scene where a shooting attack occurred in the Jordan Valley, on April 7, 2023

Israeli medics and policemen check a damaged car at the scene of a shooting attack, in the Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 7, 2023

After the attack, the Israeli Prime Minister wrote a personal tribute on Twitter for the sisters killed in the attack: ‘On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, I send my condolences to the Di Mafart family for the murder of the two wonderful sisters, Rina and Maya.’

He added: ‘In these moments, if the family is fighting for its life, and together with the entire nation of Israel, I pray for its safety, and we all send our condolences and strength to this dear family in this moment of great sorrow.’

READ MORE: British holidaymakers are confirmed wounded in Tel Aviv terror attack when driver ploughed into pedestrians after father watched his two British daughters get shot dead in front of him in separate horror 


In London, the Foreign Office confirmed the deaths of the two sisters and appealed for all sides in the Israel-Palestine dispute to de-escalate a situation which has seen violence flare up in recent days.

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.’

The attack came amid escalating violence between Palestinians and Israeli factions in response to clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem earlier this week.

The Israeli military initially reported that the Hamra shooting was caused by a collision between Israeli and Palestinian drivers.

Troops then said that they had found bullet holes in the Israeli vehicle and deemed it a deliberate attack.

Kan, an Israeli public broadcaster, said that 22 bullet casings were found. 

In response, Israel Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai called on all Israelis with firearms licences to start carrying their weapons.

Israeli Major General Yehuda Fuchs said they were reinforcing in all sectors and would find those responsible.

Soon after the attack, a car in Tel Aviv mounted the pavement and drove into pedestrians, killing one and injuring several.

Security measures were again ramped up in response. 

The Times of Israel reported that the IDF was planning to bolster the police forces as police prepared for unrest at Al-Aqsa. 

An unspecified number of air force reservists including fighter pilots and drone operators were also called up yesterday. 

A car in Tel Aviv overturned after driving into pedestrians and losing control on Friday

One was killed and seven were injured in the attack which took place this evening in Israel

Rockets hit Bezet and Shlomi in the north of Israel on Thursday as regional violence worsens

The attacks on Friday followed on from the Israeli bombing of Gaza and Tyre on Thursday night as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised an ‘aggressive response’ to rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel that afternoon. 

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, but an IDF spokesperson blamed Hamas, the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip.

The barrage, in turn, followed Israeli police storming the holy Al-Aqsa mosque compound with tear gas and stun grenades on Wednesday morning.

Violent scenes showed police using weapons to beat worshippers barricaded in the mosque, who retaliated by shooting fireworks and throwing stones.

The Israeli bombing of Gaza reportedly damaged a children’s hospital, further fomenting tensions ahead of the two outbursts on Friday.

Al-Araby al-Jadeed reported yesterday that in response to the attacks Israeli forces had ‘closed all entrances to Jericho with military checkpoints, and are searching all vehicles’ to find those responsible for the shooting in Hamra.

The outlet, founded by a former Israeli MP, cited local sources claiming that settlers under protection of the Israeli army were pursuing revenge attacks, ‘burning houses and farm machinery’ in Faroush and ‘beginning to mount further attacks on local residents’.

Hamas did not claim responsibility for the attack but said it was a ‘natural response to [Israel’s] ongoing crimes against the Al-Aqsa mosque and its barbaric aggression against Lebanon and the steadfast Gaza.’

Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza Strip, Friday, April 7, 2023

The Israeli military struck targets in the Gaza Strip, pushing the region toward a wider conflagration after a day of rocket fire along the country’s northern and southern borders

The IDF have stressed Israeli warplanes targeted infrastructure belonging to Palestinian armed groups, as opposed to civilian infrastructure.

Hamas targets in the city of Tyre in the south of Lebanon were also hit in the assault.

There were no reports of serious casualties, but residents in Qalili, Lebanon, were injured in the bombardment.

The Palestinian health ministry said ‘partial damage’ was done to the Al-Dorra children’s hospital in Gaza City during the strikes.

Hecht said the IDF was aware of the allegation and was looking into it as the local UN forces urged restraint. 

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