The two sisters shot dead by terrorists in the West Bank on Friday have been named as British-Israeli nationals Rina and Maia Dee, the daughters of British-born Rabbi Leo Dee.
Rina, 16, and Maia, 20, were murdered as they travelled with their mother to a hiking spot in the Jordan Valley.
Their mother, Lucy, is still fighting for her life.
Their father, Rabbi Dee, had been following in another car with other family members and reached at the scene of the attack shortly after paramedics arrived.
Rabbi Dee served as the Assistant Rabbi for Hendon United Synagogue in 2008- 2011 and Senior Rabbi in Radlett United Synagogue from 2011 until 2014 until making aliyah.
Lucy Dee has a background in social work and is known in their community for helping younger women and families in the community.
Daniel Tarlow, a family friend of the Dees who lives in the settlement of Elazar, said: “I heard on the news that this has happened - my family didn’t want to tell me. There were people here whose children go to school with the Dees’ children. There are special prayers being said for Lucy, there is in fact a prayer service for her tonight in Efrat, and a tehillim service. We are all saying tehillim for her.
“The family are lovely and warm and engaging , it’s such a tragedy . They invited us for Purim for example and they spent Chanukah with us.
“Unfortunately we are used to these things happening and have been involved in these attacks before . We have to have a keep calm and carry on attitude - you struggle.”
One former congregant from Hendon, who did not want to be named, told the JC, “It’s shocking news, he was the Rabbi in the Hendon minyan we used to go to, it’s terrible.
“They are a lovely warm, energetic couple and I remember their gorgeous little blonde daughters in shul.”
“It’s horrifying. The news is rippling through the community this yom tov and everyone is so upset and shocked.”
Just before leaving for Israel in 2014 Rabbi Dee said they had always missed Israel since leaving six years prior, “We have missed it intensely. 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."
According to emergency services Magen David Adom, a report was received at 10.55am local time on Friday about the attack. Paramedic Denis Polkov said that when they arrived at the scene the two young women were unconscious without a pulse and “not breathing with multi-system injuries and after medical tests they were pronounced dead at the scene. A 40-year-old woman is suffering from severe multi-system injuries and we are fighting for her life at the scene."
Israeli media said that terrorists opened fire on the family, who had been travelling to Tiberias for a holiday during Chol Hamoed, and then returned to fire more shots before speeding away. Kalashnikov shell casings were found at the scene and a manhunt is still underway.
The funerals are expected to take place tomorrow.
The UK foreign office said it was “saddened” by the news.
“We are saddened to hear about the deaths of two British-Israeli citizens and the serious injuries sustained by a third individual,” the statement said, adding “the UK calls for all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions”.
On Friday night, 36-year-old Italian tourist Alesandro Pirani was killed in a car ramming attack in the Tel Aviv promenade Charles Clore.
Seven people were injured and emergency services confirmed to the JC that included two British women aged 17 and 74 and one British male aged 7O, who have yet to be named.
The terrorist, a 45 year old Arab Israeli from the city of Kafr Qassem, was neutralised by a police officer who happened to be at the nearby petrol station and saw him reaching for a weapon in his overturned car.
Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen said: "Israel and Italy stand united against the terrorism that threatens us all. In a conversation with the Italian Foreign Minister, I expressed my condolences on behalf of the Government of Israel and the people of Israel, and I heard from Foreign Minister Tajani that the Italian government stands by Israel in these difficult days when we are under terrorist attack and supports Israel's efforts to calm the spirits.”
Neil Wigan, the UK’s ambassador to Israel said he was “appalled” by the attacks that left the two sisters dead, and was offering support to the families of the victims.
The White House “strongly condemned today’s terror attacks in the West Bank and Tel Aviv.”
It comes after a few bloody months in the Holy Land that escalated after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians inside the Al Aqsa mosque during Ramadan.
The clashes drew harsh condemnation from the Arab League as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, leading to rocket fire from Gaza.