5 dead, 2 injured in shooting attack on Africa’s oldest synagogue in Tunisia.

Written by on May 10, 2023

Two worshippers and two security guards have been killed in a gun attack near Africa’s oldest synagogue, on the Tunisian island of Djerba.

The attack took place during an annual pilgrimage to the island, which attracts thousands of Jewish visitors from Europe and Israel and is seen as a rare instance of Jewish partnership with an Arab nation.

Two of the dead were Jewish cousins who had traveled to Djerba from France and Israel for festivities at El Ghriba synagogue; Aviel Hadad, 30, was a Tunisian citizen living in Netivot, Israel, and Benjamin Haddad, 42, lived in France. The three other dead were Tunisian security officials, according to Tunisia’s foreign ministry.

It was reported that a guard shot dead his partner before opening fire on visitors and security forces near the Ghriba synagogue before being killed himself.

Relative Mordechai Madar told Israeli radio station 103FM, He said:

They were shot, and murdered in cold blood. They were just in the car park and were supposed to go in, in front of the entrance for the security check.

The attack took place at the end of an evening of festivities at El Ghriba, a site of Jewish worship dating back 2,500 years that is also a central attraction of the pilgrimage taking place each year on or around Lag b’Omer, a break during the 49 days of mourning between Passover and Shavuot.

It is not the first time the 2,500-year-old synagogue has been targeted.

In 2002 a bomb attack, claimed by al-Qaeda Islamist militants, killed more than 20 people on the island.

Tunisia is a majority-Muslim country, but Djerba is home to hundreds of Jews.

About 1,000 Jews are estimated to live in Tunisia, one of the only continual Jewish communities in the Arab world. Most of Tunisia’s Jewish population, estimated at over 100,000 before 1948, left the country for Israel or France by 1970.

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