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Israelis mourn sisters killed in occupied West Bank attack

Mourners attend the funeral of two British-Israeli sisters, Maia and Rina Dee, at a cemetery in the Jewish settlement of Kfar Etzion in the occupied West Bank, Sunday, April 9
Mourners attend the funeral of two British-Israeli sisters, Maia and Rina Dee, at a cemetery in the Jewish settlement of Kfar Etzion in the occupied West Bank, Sunday, April 9 Copyright Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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The mother who was also shot in the attack remains in critical condition in a hospital, unaware of her daughters' deaths.

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Hundreds of grief-stricken mourners gathered on Sunday for the funeral of two British-Israeli sisters - aged 16 and 20 - who were killed in a shooting on Friday in the West Bank, where they lived in a Jewish settlement.

The mother who was also shot in the attack remains in critical condition in a hospital, unaware of her daughters' deaths.

The funeral was held in Kfar Etzion, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

In an incident which has been described as a terror attack, a car carrying the sisters and their mother was driven off the road after being shot at by gunmen. Their father had been driving ahead in a separate vehicle.

The West Bank, occupied by Israel since the 1967 six-day War, is home to hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers who live in state-approved settlements considered illegal under international law.

Hours after Friday's shooting, an Italian tourist was killed and seven others wounded in a suspected car-ramming attack in Tel Aviv.

On Saturday, Israeli troops shot dead a 20-year-old Palestinian man in the West Bank.

The army said soldiers shot at suspects who threw an "explosive device" towards them, while the Palestinian health ministry said the man suffered bullet wounds to the chest and abdomen.

Hundreds turned out to attend his funeral Sunday, including masked militants holding guns.

Al-Aqsa Mosque tensions

After several days of clashes, tensions were high on Sunday in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque and compound in Jerusalem, as Jewish-Muslim tensions peaked with simultaneous religious rituals.

Hundreds of Jewish worshipers were escorted across the esplanade towards the city's Western Wall - the holiest place where they can pray as they marked the Passover holiday.

On Sunday night, hundreds of Palestinians worshipped at the Al-Aqsa Mosque as part of observances during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Despite police pressure, attendees later refused to leave the religious compound. In the end, they were not evicted, as in previous days, to avoid further clashes. 

Earlier on Sunday morning, Israeli warplanes and artillery struck targets in Syria following rare rocket fire from the north-eastern neighbour.

Hundreds of Jews visited the Al-Aqsa compound under heavy police guard Sunday, to whistles and religious chants from Palestinians protesting their presence.

Such tours by religious and nationalist Jews have increased in size and frequency over the years, and are viewed with suspicion by many Palestinians who fear that Israel plans one day to take over the site or partition it. 

Israeli officials say they have no intention of changing long-standing arrangements that allow Jews to visit, but not pray in the Muslim-administered site. However, the country is now governed by the most right-wing government in its history, with ultra-nationalists in senior positions.

Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Jewish men of the Cohanim Priestly caste participate in a blessing during the holiday of Passover, in front of the Western Wall, in Jerusalem's Old City.Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Tensions have soared in the past week at the flashpoint shrine after an Israeli police raid on the mosque. On several occasions, Palestinians have barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque 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 the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 

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Police removed them by force, detaining hundreds and leaving dozens injured. 

The violence at the shrine triggered rocket fire by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon, starting Wednesday, and Israeli airstrikes targeted both areas.

Late on Saturday and early Sunday, militants in Syria fired rockets in two salvos toward Israel and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. A Damascus-based Palestinian group loyal to the Syrian government claimed responsibility for the first round of rockets, saying it was retaliating for the Al-Aqsa raids.

In the first salvo, one rocket landed in a field in the Golan Heights. Fragments of another destroyed missile fell into Jordanian territory near the Syrian border, Jordan’s military reported. In the second round, two of the rockets crossed the border into Israel, with one being intercepted and the second landing in an open area, the Israeli military said.

Israel responded with artillery fire into the area in Syria from where the rockets were fired. Later, the military said Israeli fighter jets attacked Syrian army sites, including a compound of Syria’s 4th Division and radar and artillery posts.

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