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Rescue services on Saturday morning found the bodies of six members of a family who had all been stabbed to death at an apartment in Rishon Letzion, after a blaze had engulfed the home.

The bodies of the Oshrenko family - grandfather and grandmother Edward and Ludmilla, both 56, parents Tattiana, 28 and Dimitry, 32, and the children Revital, 3 and 4-month-old Netanel - displayed visible signs of violence.

Police are investigating whether the stabbings were perpetrated by one of the dead, killing all of the others before committing suicide, or by another person who managed to escape the apartment afterward.

A gag order has been imposed on the case, but police have relayed that they were taking their investigation in a number of different directions.

Firefighters and police rushed to the apartment, on the central town's Nordau road, after receiving a report about a fire there.

When the firefighters arrived, they found the door locked from the inside, and were forced to break it down. Upon entry, they found the bodies in two rooms; they removed them from the home, and Magen David Adom paramedics pronounced them dead outside.

A large number of police officers arrived at the scene, headed by Nissim Mor, the commander of police's central district, who launched the investigation into the incident.

The deputy director of Magen David Adom emergency services in the Ayalon district, Effi Bar, described the scene that rescue workers found:"This was a very tough sight," he said. "Every incident of death is tough, but I don't remember a case as big as this, with such tragic consequences."

A firefighter who was also present at the site, Itzik Levy, later spoke of his horror.

"After we discovered that the door was locked, we broke it down and took control of the fire and then we discovered the bodies - four adults and two children, who were already lifeless," he said. "It was a horrific sight."

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, a close friend of the Oshrenko family, visited the apartment where the murder occurred, saying "we have to do something quickly in order to restore the sense of security to the citizens of Israel." He added that he had spoken to the prime minister and the public security minister on the matter.

Misezhnikov, a resident of Rishon Letzion, recounted his relationship with the family. "On a personal lever, it is harder for me. I watched this family set up a business, succeed in their new life in Israel, and I took part in their family events."

The minister lamented the "very thought that I will never see these people again, after they were slaughtered like sheep."

Haim Shmilov, a friend of the family, told Channel 10 news that he and his wife were stunned by the murders. "It is difficult to imagine," he said. "We were with them on Friday, such beautiful good people. It is difficult to imagine what happened."

Shmilov added that "there was no one who was angry with them. On the contrary, they had lots of friends and acquaintances."

Deputy to Rishon Letzion's mayor, Vadim Kirpitchov, who holds the immigration absorption portfolio in the city, sobbed at the scene of the murder. "I've known Dimitry since 2003. He was a businessman and this was a good family," he said.

"They were in good spirits, and their financial situation was good," he added.

The family had celebrated the third birthday of Revital, one of the children, on Friday at the Premier restaurant, owned by the family. According to Kirpitchov, the family did not display any signs of distress during the party, which was held immediately prior to the murders. "They were in a good mood. I don't know what happened," Kirpitchov said.