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Palestinian citizen of Israel among Istanbul shooting attack victims

Jan. 1, 2017 4:09 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 2, 2017 3:27 P.M.)
18-year-old Leanne Zahir Nasser
TIRA (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian citizen of Israel was confirmed to be among the 39 victims of a shooting attack at a New Year’s Eve party at an Istanbul nightclub. The body of 18-year-old Leanne Zahir Nasser was found after she had been declared missing, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed on Sunday.

Nasser, from the town of Tira in central Israel, was on a week-long vacation in Turkey along with three other women from Tira, relatives told Ma'an.

Nasser and her friends were among hundreds celebrating New Year’s Eve at the famous seaside Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortakoy neighborhood, when an attacker randomly opened fire inside the club, killing 39 people and wounding some 70 others.

A Turkish policeman and a civilian were shot dead outside the club before the gunman entered the venue.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday that only 21 of the victims had been identified, and that 15 or 16 were foreign nationals -- reportedly including Israeli, Lebanese, Libyan, Moroccan, and Saudi Arabian citizens -- while at least three of the Turkish victims may have been employees at the club.

The mayor of Tira Maamun Abd al-Hayy and his deputy Walid Nasser, along with dozens of relatives of the bereaved family, gathered at Leanne's family home to support them.

Her parents flew to Istanbul to identify her body and bring it back to Israel for burial.

Leanne Nasser's parents

Nasser’s friend, 18-year-old Rawa Sufian Mansour, sustained moderate wounds after she was hit in her hand and her leg. She was receiving treatment at a local hospital in Istanbul. Friends Alaa Abd al-Hai and Aya Abd al-Hai were suffering from anxiety.

Relatives had been unable to reach Nasser since the attack occurred at about 1:30 a.m., and only around noon discovered that she was dead.

"We were seriously worried after news of the attack went viral on Facebook,” Nasser’s bereaved father told reporters. “We tried to contact Leanne, but all our attempts failed.” He said he was notified when his daughter's hand bag and mobile phone were found at the scene.

Rawa’s father Sufian Mansour said he call her after the attack to check on her. Despite her injuries, she was in a stable condition and said she would fly back home in four days. He added he was in contact with the Israeli consulate in Turkey.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and offered condolences on behalf of the Palestinian people to the people of Turkey and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan.

Abbas reiterated his rejection of all kinds of terror activities and called for more regional and international action against terrorism.

While Turkish authorities have called the attack and act of terror, no one has claimed responsibility and the gunman is still at large.

Istanbul was already on high alert with some 17,000 police officers on duty in the city, following a string of terror attacks in recent months, may of which were carried out by the so-called Islamic state or Kurdish militants.

Throughout a wave of attacks that have hit Turkey over the past few years, the Islamic state has claimed attacks targeting civilians while Kurdish militants have been blamed for attacks targeting Turkish military forces.

Multiple Palestinians were among the victims of a triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in June, which left 36 dead and more than 140 injured.

Less than two weeks ago, Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead by off-duty Turkish policeman as the ambassador gave a speech in the Turkish capital Ankara. In a video of the attack, the killer shouted the murder was in revenge for Russian involvement in the conflict in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
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