Tunisian synagogue torched amid unrest


(JTA) — A firebomb thrown at the El Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba caused minor damage and no injuries.

The incident occurred Tuesday night amid protests over economic condition in several Tunisian cities, though not in Djerba itself, Reuters reported. There are no suspects.

In 2002, terrorists blew up a vehicle near the El Ghriba synagogue, killing 21.

Four Jewish families live in the area. Most of the Djerba Jewish community, which numbers in the hundreds and is the largest in the Arab world, lives two miles north of there in a neighborhood that is under heavy protection and whose entrances are guarded around the clock by the country’s internal security services.

Tunisian police increased their security around the Djerba Jewish institutions.

In recent years, Israel’s Counterterrorism Bureau has warned Israelis not to travel to Tunisia for the annual pilgrimage to the El Ghriba synagogue, citing recent information that indicates the intention to carry out terror attacks against visiting Israelis or Tunisian Jewish communities.

The traditional festive procession near the El Ghriba synagogue on Djerba takes place on or around Lag b’Omer, a break during the 49 days of semi-mourning between Passover and Shavuot. It draws hundreds of Tunisian Jews and visitors from Israel.

The synagogue, in the village of Er-Riadh, dates back to 586 B.C., although the current building was reconstructed in the 19th century. El Ghriba is sometimes cited as North Africa’s oldest synagogue.

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