Israel asks diplomats to press Tunisia on protecting Jewish community


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Foreign Ministry charged its diplomats with calling on the international community to urge the Tunisian government to protect its Jewish community.

The order was issued following several anti-Semitic incidents in Tunisia, which is home to about 2,000 Jews, Yediot Achronot reported.

The Foreign Ministry asked diplomats in Israeli embassies in the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Italy to ask the foreign ministries of those countries to pass on Israel’s demand that the Tunisian government guarantee the safety of the Jewish community and its property, and to publicly condemn the anti-Semitic incidents, including the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries.

In the last month, at least 80 gravestones were found ransacked and graves looted at Jewish cemeteries in Tunisia, including in the coastal town of Sousse. The Foreign Ministry distributed pictures and videos of the grave desecration around the world, according to Yediot.

Muslim imams also have spoken out publicly against the Jewish community on several occasions, including during a visit last year to Tunisia by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Tunisia had a Jewish population of more than 100,000 at the time of independence in 1956, comprising the country’s largest religious minority. Its Jewish population today lives mostly on the southern island of Djerba and around the capital, Tunis.

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