In Brief: Three killed in attack on synagogue in Tunisia during pilgrimage

Synagogue de la Ghriba Djerba > IssamBarhoumi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Two Jewish worshippers and one security guard have been killed by a Tunisian naval officer who opened fire at a synagogue on the island of Djerba, in the Gulf of Gabes, on Tuesday night.

The victims have been identified as Aviel Hadad, a 30-year-old dual citizen of Israel and Tunisia, and his 42-year-old cousin Benjamin Haddad, a French-Jewish businessman.

A guard also died in the attack on the heavily secured El Ghriba synagogue, while nine others, including four civilians, were injured.

Tunisia’s interior ministry reported that the offender, an affiliate of the National Guard naval centre in nearby Aghir, was shot dead by synagogue security following his attack against the worshippers.

“Investigations are continuing in order to shed light on the motives for this cowardly aggression”, the ministry said, refraining from referring to the shooting as a terrorist attack.

Online video footage showed alarmed worshippers inside the synagogue, where hundreds of Jews primarily from France and Israel were celebrating Lag B’Omer.

Tunisian authorities maintain a permanent presence around the synagogue, situated on the island which has had a Jewish community for some 2,500 years.

Tunisia is one of the many Arab-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa which do not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel.