Four people were murdered in two terrorist attacks claimed by Hamas over Passover. On April 7, two sisters from Efrat – Maia Dee, 20, and Rina Dee, 15 – were shot dead in an attack near the Hamra Junction on Route 57 in the Jordan Valley as they drove to Tiberias with their mother, Lucy Dee, 48, who succumbed to her wounds four days later at Hadassah Ein Kerem. Their car was driven off the road, and they were fired on at close range by Palestinian gunmen, who were sought after by security forces. “Our family of seven is now a family of four,” said Rabbi Leo Dee, who made aliyah with his family from London in 2014. The family donated Lucy Dee’s organs to save the lives of five people. On the night of that attack, Alessandro Parini, 35, an Italian tourist, was killed and seven others were wounded in a car-ramming attack on the Tel Aviv promenade. The terrorist, a 45-year-old Arab Israeli from Kafr Qassem, was shot dead by a police officer at a nearby gas station.
The IAF carried out airstrikes on Hamas targets in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip after dozens of rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza and Lebanon on April 6. The IDF said the strikes were a response to the firing by Hamas of 34 rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel – the biggest barrage since 2006 – causing damage but no casualties. Twenty-five rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome defense system. On the night of April 9, three rockets were fired at Israel from Syria. Violence escalated following two nights of Israeli police raids at al-Aqsa Mosque to prevent rioters holed up inside from throwing rocks at Jewish worshipers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barred Jews from ascending the Temple Mount for the last two weeks of Ramadan and rescinded his decision to fire Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, saying they were now working together “on all fronts against the security challenges.”
The credit rating agency Moody’s on April 14 downgraded the outlook of the Israeli economy from “positive” to “stable,” but affirmed its credit rating for Israel at AI. “The main reason for downgrading Israel’s credit outlook was the changes in the judicial system that the government plans, which lower its ability to review procedures,” said Moody’s senior vice president, Kathrin Muehlbronner.
Israeli poet, writer, journalist and playwright Yehonatan Geffen, a leading voice of the political Left, died at the age of 76 on April 19. Geffen wrote popular poems, books and songs for adults and children, including HaYalda Hachi Yafa BaGan (“The Prettiest Girl in Kindergarten”) and Yihye Tov (“It will be Good”). His three children, singer Aviv Geffen, and two daughters, Natasha and Shira, sang together at his funeral in Nahalal.
Benjamin (Ben) Berell Ferencz, a human rights advocate who was the last surviving prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials of 1947, died at an assisted living facility in Boynton Beach, Florida, on April 7 at the age of 103. “Today the world lost a leader in the quest for justice for victims of genocide and related crimes,” the US Holocaust Memorial Museum said in a statement. “At age 27, with no prior trial experience, he secured guilty verdicts against 22 Nazis.” He went on to play a crucial role in securing compensation for Holocaust survivors and the creation of the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
Meir Shalev, one of Israel’s most prominent writers, died on April 11 at the age of 74 after a battle with cancer. Shalev wrote books for adults and children, including The Blue Mountain; The Kiss of Water; May the Earth Remember; For Judith’s Sake; and The Best Way to Grow Up, which were translated into 26 languages. He won the Bernstein Prize, the Brenner Prize and the National Jewish Book Award for A Pigeon and a Boy, as well as France’s Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2018.