A British Rabbi has paid a heartbreaking tribute to his wife at her funeral today, days after she was gunned down in a West Bank attack.
Lucy Dee, 48, died yesterday after succumbing to critical injuries sustained in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank on Friday.
Her death came just one day after the funeral of her daughters Rina, 15, and Maia, 20, who were killed instantly in the attack launched by suspected Palestinian gunmen.
Lucy’s husband Rabbi Leo Dee spoke at the funeral today saying of his slain wife: ‘We literally traveled the world together, we made aliyah together. We built a new life for ourselves in the promised land.
‘You were airlifted from a murder scene. I can’t imagine the pain, physical and mental, if you were conscious in any way for that journey.
‘Nothing will ever replace you, your soul is part of my soul.’
The funeral was attended by thousands of mourners who lined the roads in the rain leading to the service in Kfar Etzion, close to the Efrat settlement where the Dee family lived.
One of Lucy’s daughters, Karen, said: ‘Yesterday, beside the grave of Maia and Rina, I closed my eyes and prayed that you would wake up, so that we wouldn’t need to go through this pain twice. My heart is already so full of pain, I am paralyzed by all the pain. To lose your mother is like losing your life. I don’t want to move on.’
The fatal shootings came 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.
Relatives and mourners attend the funeral of Lucy Dee, a British-Israeli woman who died of her injuries three days after a suspected Palestinian gun attack, in which two of her daughters were also killed, at the Kfar Etzion settlement cemetery in the occupied West Bank, on April 11, 2023
The death of Lucy Dee, 48, came a day after the funeral of her daughters Rina, 15, and Maia, 20, who were also killed. All were described as ‘idealistic, pure-hearted and kind’. Husband and father Rabbi Leo Dee is seen far right
Three days after the attack, Lucy died in hospital as a result of her injuries
Mother Lucy Dee, 48, 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
Lucy was seriously injured in the surprise attack on their car near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on Friday.
On Monday, Israel’s Hadassah hospital announced that she had died. Hospital staff said the Dee family decided to donate her organs to help save the lives of others.
Five people have since received life-saving organ transplants thanks to Lucy, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Dee family lived in the Efrat settlement, near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, according to the settlement’s mayor, Oded Revivi.
The three family members were among six people caught up in the attack carried out by suspected Palestinian assailants, and the Dees were on their way to Tiberias in the Galilee for a family holiday when they were blasted.
Rabbi Leo Dee told a press conference at the Efrat Settlement on Monday that he had been informed of an attack and called his family before realising he had received a missed call from his daughter Maia.
He said at the press conference, broadcast on the BBC: ‘I hadn’t noticed it ring, I hadn’t picked up the phone, the feeling she called me during the attack and I wasn’t able to speak to her will come back and haunt me for a while.’
He said that he saw a photograph on Instagram of his car with a bullet hole in it, with the family’s suitcases with blood on them, and drove ‘like a lunatic’ to the scene.
Rabbi Dee told the BBC that he was able to identify his daughter Maia at the scene after police produced her identity card, and he then drove to the hospital where his wife had been taken.
He said: ‘I went numb. I didn’t cry yet, I was highly rational. I drove another hour and a half to the hospital. Lucy had had two bullets – one through the brain stem and one 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.’
He then hit out at the attacker who killed his family.
Children of Lucy Dee, the mother of British-Israeli sisters Maia and Rina Dee who were killed last week in a shooting attack as the family were driving their car, hug each other next to her body at her funeral in Kfar Etzion in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 11
Mourners attend the funeral of Lucy Dee, 48, a British-Israeli woman who died of her injuries three days after a suspected Palestinian gun attack, in which two of her daughters were also killed
Settlers stand by the side of the road with Israeli national flags paying their respects during the funeral of Lucy Dee
Mourners turned out in their droves for Lucy’s funeral at the Kfar Etzion settlement cemetery in the occupied West Bank, on April 11, 2023
Maia (left) and Rina Dee, sisters who were killed in a terrorist shooting attack in the West Bank on April 7, 2023
Mother Lucy Dee 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
‘This anonymous terrorist with a Kalashnikov, what did he achieve, temporary victory? Where’s his future? Is he spending time with his children, to teach them decent life values? Does he even have children or is he a child himself? Is he the product of a broken culture that doesn’t differentiate between good and evil so he doesn’t see a future for himself?’
He added: ‘We will never accept terror as legitimate… There is no such thing as a moral equivalent between terrorist and victim. The terrorist is always bad.’
Rabbi Dee was formerly the senior rabbi at Radlett United Synagogue in Hertfordshire and assistant rabbi in Hendon, north London. The sisters were born in London and the family moved to Israel in 2014, according to reports.
His wife’s funeral earlier today came after Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the ‘abhorrent’ attack.
The Prime Minister said: ‘The killing of British-Israeli citizens, Maia, Rina and Lucy Dee is abhorrent.
‘The UK condemns this appalling attack on civilians and I send my deepest condolences to Rabbi Dee and his family.
‘We continue to urge all sides to de-escalate tensions in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and end the deadly cycle of violence.’
Israel’s ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely said: ‘The whole of Israel stands united with Rabbi Leo Dee and his family, following the horrific murder of his wife and two daughters.’
Rabbi Dee described his wife and daughters as ‘three beautiful innocent young ladies in the prime of their lives’ and urged people to post images of the Israeli flag on social media in their memory.
In footage from his daughters’ funeral on Sunday, Rabbi Dee said: ‘Maia and Rina, you have loved us, you have inspired us, and in turn we will love you forever.
‘May your souls be bound in the bond of eternal life.
‘And may we, and no-one else in the world, ever know so much sorrow.’
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the British Jewish community have expressed their condolences to the family.
Mr 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 Board of Deputies of British Jews posted: ‘Our hearts go out to the Dee family at the terrible news that Lucy Dee has now also passed away after the Palestinian terror attack on Friday that killed two of her daughters, Maia and Rina.
‘May their memories be for eternal blessing.’
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
Lucy’s death on Monday coincided 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.
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.
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.
Muslim worshippers perform Friday prayers outside the Dome of Rock Mosque at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Israeli police clashed with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City for second time on Wednesday, witnesses said
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, 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 10 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 and 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 Mideast 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.