Two British-Israeli sisters killed in a gun attack in the occupied West Bank have been named by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rina and Maia Dee were shot dead near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on Friday.
The attack is believed to have been carried out by Palestinian assailants, after Israel launched retaliatory air strikes on Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
The sisters’ father, Rabbi Leo Dee, released a statement expressing confidence that justice would be done. He said the family was “saddened” by the current political situation in Israel.
The family had moved to Israel in 2014 and lived in the Efrat settlement near Bethlehem. The sisters’ mother was also seriously injured in the attack, while their father witnessed the incident from a separate car following behind, according to local officials.
The attack occurred amid heightened tensions after days of fighting at Jerusalem’s most holy site during the rare convergence of Ramadan, Passover and Easter.
Israeli Prime Minister sent condolences to the family of the “two wonderful sisters”.
“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,” Mr Netanyahu said.
The Hamas militant group praised the attacks as retaliation for Israeli raids on Al Aqsa Mosque.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly held a call on Saturday with his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, to discuss the “appalling” attacks.
Middle East minister Lord Ahmad condemned the attacks, while British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan offered condolences and support to those affected.
The UK Foreign Office released a statement saying it was “saddened” to hear about the deaths of the two British-Israelis and the “serious injuries sustained by a third individual”.
The UK called for all parties in the region to de-escalate tensions, while shadow foreign secretary David Lammy called for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the cycle of violence.
Sisters held British citizenship
A representative from the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said that the two women who died held British citizenship.
“We are saddened to hear about the deaths of two British-Israeli citizens and the serious injuries sustained by a third individual,” the office said. “The UK calls for all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions.”
The incident took place on Friday near the Hamra settlement, north of Jerusalem, when the car the women were travelling in was shot at and rammed.
The shooting occurred following Israeli air strikes in Lebanon and Gaza, which were launched in response to rocket attacks that Israel attributed to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.
Police raids on Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem earlier this week have contributed to rising tension.
While the Israeli army has launched a search for suspects in the area, Hamas praised the shooting, but did not claim responsibility.
Following the attack, the local police commissioner called on Israeli citizens with gun licences to start carrying their weapons.
The mayor of the settlement expressed his condolences, saying the family had been part of the community for a long time.
The incident has given rise to fears that a broader conflict involving Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group, could break out, as the group forms closer ties to Hamas.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah’s media office announced that the militant group’s chief, Hassan Nasrallah, received a delegation headed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday.
The two discussed “the most important developments in occupied Palestine, the course of events at Al Aqsa Mosque, and the escalating resistance in the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to general political developments in the region, the readiness of the resistance axis and the co-operation of its parties”, the media office said.