Netanyahu names British-Israeli sisters killed in occupied West Bank

Further protests in Tel Aviv against PM’s judicial reform plans despite security concerns

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has named two British-Israeli sisters killed in a gun attack in the occupied West Bank.

The attack, by Palestinian assailants on Friday, came after Israel launched retaliatory air strikes at Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Tensions have been heightened by days of fighting at Jerusalem’s most holy site during the rare convergence of Ramadan, Passover and Easter.

Naming the sisters for the first time, Mr Netanyahu said: “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 Zakharan, in the severe attack in the Bekaa.


“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.”

The two sisters, in their 20s, were shot dead in an attack on their car near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank – while their 45-year-old mother was seriously wounded.

Their father witnessed the incident from a separate car following behind, local officials said.

The family lived in the Efrat settlement, near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, according to the settlement’s mayor Oded Revivi.

Late on Friday, an Italian tourist was killed and five other Italian and British citizens were wounded when a car rammed a group in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

British foreign secretary James Cleverly held a call on Saturday with his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, to discuss the “appalling” attacks.

The Hamas militant group that rules Gaza praised both incidents as retaliation for Israeli raids earlier this week on the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon came after militants fired nearly three dozen rockets from there.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Israelis joined protests on Saturday against Mr Netanyahu’s plans to tighten controls on the supreme court, despite heightened security worries after Friday’s attacks.

The latest in a series of protests against the plans, which were paused last month in the face of a wave of strikes and mass demonstrations, come as Israel faces a sharp rise in tensions on several fronts during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Mr Netanyahu has mobilised border police reservists and ordered the army to reinforce security positions to head off possible trouble, amid calls for calm from the United Nations, the European Union and the United States.

In central Tel Aviv, crowds waving the blue and white Israeli flags that have become a hallmark of the protests over the past three months gathered in a show of defiance against plans they see as an existential threat to Israeli democracy.

The demonstration began with a prayer for the victims of the attacks a day earlier but protesters said they would not be put off by security worries. – PA/Reuters