five persons – two pilgrims and three security agents- died and eight others were injured in the attack last night in the vicinity of the synagogue from the Tunisian island of Herb (South) perpetrated by an agent of the National Guard, that he was killed and whose motivations are still unknown, official Tunisian sources reported on Wednesday.
The civilian casualties were Aviel Haddad 30 years old, originally from Djerba and an Israeli national, and his cousin Benjamin Haddad 42 years old and a Franco-Tunisian citizen. Among the officers who died is a coastguarda member of the anti-terrorist brigade (BAT) and a traffic copwho died in the last hours.
According to preliminary investigations the attacker was a Coast Guard agenta body belonging to the National Guard, who was not on duty and murdered his partner in the seaport of Aghir before taking his uniform, the regulation weapon and the ammunition.
Around 19:00 GMT yesterday, Tuesday, he arrived at the temple of the Ghriba20 kilometers away where it was held the last day of the jewish pilgrimage in which thousands of attendees participated, and opened fire indiscriminately against the security units that protected the venue.
According to the Tunisian Ministry of the Interior, the perpetrator of the attack tried to gain access to the interior of the synagogue, which had a strong police deploymentand was killed despite wearing a bulletproof vest.
In an interview on local radio Mosaic FMthe former Minister of Tourism and member of the organizing committee of the pilgrimage, René Trabelsiassured that the majority of attendees had left the place before the assault while those present remained inside for several hours guarded by the security forces.
“This attack on innocent people aloneor strengthen the unity and determination of the country to continue their relentless fight against all kinds of crimes and defeat those who support them,” declared the Tunisian Foreign Ministrywhich assured that the investigation continues to determine responsibilities.
In 2002 this synagoguethe oldest in the Maghreb region with 2,600 years old, suffered a jihadist attack – claimed by the group Al Qaeda- with a tanker truck loaded with explosives that killed 21 faithful, most of them foreigners. After two years of closure due to the pandemic, the temple resumed its activities last year.
the festival of Lag Ba’Omer It is celebrated every year on the 33rd day of the Jewish Passover and commemorates the end of the plague epidemic that took the lives of 24,000 pupils of Rabbi Akiva (50-135), one of the most important scholars of Judaism.
The Jewish community in Tunisia had 100,000 members in the 1940s and currently it is estimated at 1,300, concentrated mainly in this small enclave in the south of the country, after the majority emigrated to France and Israel.
The Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Amichai Chiklynoted that “unfortunately, the incident was preceded by a tense period of shouting and harassment of the Jewish community at the site,” according to his office.
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohenspoke with the chief rabbi of Tunis, haim bitan, and “he told him that Israel is by the side of the community in this difficult hour.” He said that he had instructed ministry officials to provide all necessary help. Israel and Tunisia do not maintain formal diplomatic relations.
He European Jewish Congress expressed his “shock and outrage.”
(With information from EFE and AP)
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