Tunisia: Six Dead in Shooting Near Africa's Oldest Synagogue

    Tunisia: Six Dead in Shooting Near Africa's Oldest Synagogue
    Last updated May 11, 2023
    Image credit: reuters


    • The death toll of Tuesday's rampage near Ghriba Synagogue in Tunisia's Djerba island — where hundreds of Jewish pilgrims were gathering — has risen to six, after a police officer died on Wednesday from his injuries.[1]
    • In the incident, a guard affiliated with the National Guard naval center in Aghir murdered a coworker before seizing ammunition and opening fire, killing two worshippers and a police officer. Security forces neutralized the assailant before he reached the entrance of the building.[2]
    • The death of the two pilgrims — a French national and a dual Israeli-Tunisian citizen — prompted France's Emmanuel Macron to commit to continue fighting "anti-Semitic hatred," and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the shooting in Africa's oldest synagogue, which was constructed roughly 2.5K years ago.[3]
    • While authorities have yet to state a motive behind the attack, Islamic militants have previously targeted the annual Djerba pilgrimage, which has had tight security since al-Qaeda killed 21 tourists at the event with a truck bomb in 2002.[4]
    • Tunisia’s Pres. Kais Saied, who made no reference to anti-semitism or terrorism, blamed the country's deadliest attack in years on criminals seeking to hit the tourism sector — a major source of foreign currency.[5]
    • The Jewish annual three-day Lag B’Omer festival has attracted around 6K Jewish pilgrims from around the world to Djerba, a Mediterranean island that is home to Tunisia’s largest Jewish community, comprised of 1.1K people.[6]


    Narrative A

    The swift intervention of Tunisian forces in this incident prevented a much worse tragedy, as hundreds of pilgrims were present in the historic Ghriba Synagogue at the time of the attack. Now, a preliminary criminal investigation is underway to assess exactly what led to this shooting. Tunis is deeply committed to ensuring the well-being of everyone in its territory.

    Narrative B

    The deadly rampage in Djerba is tragic and worthy of the strongest condemnation, but it should also be made clear that it was an explicitly antisemitic act of terrorism and it must be identified as such. Tunisian authorities may be quick to offer generic platitudes of sorrow, but their refusal to call out antisemitism shows that they are not serious about protecting the Jewish community.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that at least seven Arab League member states will have normalized relations with Israel in 2027, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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