Rabbi Leo Dee has said that the thought that his daughter attempted to call him as she, her sister, and his wife were attacked by Palestinian terrorists will “haunt” him.
Speaking at a press conference in Efrat, the British rabbi appeared to choke back tears as he described how he discovered his spouse, Lucy Dee, and their children, Maia and Rina, had been murdered.
The former Radlett rabbi set out an emotional defence of Israel and denunciation of moral relativism as he outlined his idea for an “international Dees day” on which his slain relatives would be remembered.
“We will never accept terror as legitimate,” he argued. “We will never blame the murder on the victims. There is no such thing as moral equivalence between terrorist and victim.”
On Friday April 7, he said, the family set out from their West Bank home to drive to a holiday in two cars.
Just after 11am, his sister called to say a vehicle in the area had been attacked. Rabbi Dee called his wife, then Maia, then Rina, to ask if they were ok, but none answered.
“Then I saw a missed call from Maia 10:52,” he said.
“I hadn’t noticed it ring and had not picked up the phone. The feeling that she called me during the attack and I wasn’t able to speak to her will come back and haunt me for a while.”
Dee’s daughter Tali, who was in the car with him, then saw a photo posted on Instagram of a car spattered with bullet holes that had suitcases covered in blood inside.
“The suitcases were ours,” he said.
“I immediately turned round and drove like a lunatic to the Hamra junction. We got there around 12:30. They wouldn't let us see the car.
“By this point we knew that two younger girls had been killed by a terrorist with an automatic Kalashnikov rifle… and the older woman had been airlifted to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem.
“I wanted to go to be with Lucy in the hospital but we couldn’t believe that this was our car, our family. So I wanted to see the girls, or at least the car for myself.
“After what seemed like a lifetime (it was actually three lifetimes) I convinced them to bring us an ID card that they had rescued from the scene. It was Maia’s.
“I went numb. I didn’t cry yet. I was highly rational. I went back to the car and drove another hour and a half to the hospital.”
The rabbi then discovered, he said, that his wife had been hit by two bullets: one which went through her brain stem, and another that had lodged at the top of her spine.
“There was an operation, there was reason for hope. But alas, our family of seven is now a family of four.”
The British-raised rabbi also gave an impassioned defence of the existence of good in the world.
Hailing the rare confluence of Easter, Pesach and Ramadan, he said: “All world religions believe that we have the power to tell the difference between good and evil so that we can choose to do good.
“And if we choose good, then we make the world into a better place. I am saddened that recently - maybe over the past 20 years of my life, this innate ability to differentiate between good and evil has been gradually lost from humanity.”
April 10, he went on, would therefore become “international Dees day,” on which the world could reflect on the difference between right and wrong.
“If you feel that it was wrong to shoot dead at close range three beautiful innocent young ladies in the prime of their lives then please post a picture of you or your spouse or your children with an Israeli flag,” Dee added.
“Or just post a picture of an Israeli flag and share it on Facebook, Instagram or whatever social media app you use.”
Turning to a whiteboard behind him, Dee then drew a basic depiction of the Israeli flag.
“My beautiful late wife Lucy and I have tried to bring up our children with strong moral values,” he continued.
“Helping others, caring for others, building community, and baruch Hashem, thank God, I believe that Tali, Keren and Yehuda will do that in their lives and pass those values down to their children and hence play their part in building a better world.
“This anonymous terrorist with the Kalashnikov - what did he achieve? A temporary victory? Some marks he can carve into his gun? Where's his future ? Is he spending the time with his children to teach them decent life values? Does he even have children or is he a child himself?
“[He is] a product of a broken culture that does not differentiate between good and evil, so he cannot see a future for himself.”