Skip to main content

Tunisia: Israeli among five killed in attack near synagogue

Two Jewish cousins, one French and one Israeli-Tunisian, are among the dead following an attack near Ghriba synagogue
Police secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba, on 9 May 2023 (AFP)

A Tunisian security officer shot dead five people, including an Israeli citizen, on Tuesday near Africa's oldest synagogue, on the island of Djerba, where hundreds of worshippers were taking part in an annual pilgrimage.

The officer, a guard at a naval installation on Djerba, first killed a fellow officer and took his ammunition before heading towards the Ghriba synagogue, according to the Tunisian interior ministry.

He then opened fire indiscriminately at security units located near the synagogue, killing two Jewish visitors and a security officer. A third security officer later died in hospital. 

Four more police officers were also wounded, one critically, hospital sources said, along with four other visitors.

The two civilians killed were cousins, a 30-year-old dual Tunisian-Israeli citizen and a 42-year-old from France, according to the Tunisian and Israeli foreign ministries.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The attack sparked panic among the hundreds of people visiting the synagogue.

It is the first attack on foreign tourists in Tunisia since 2015, and the first on a pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue since a suicide truck bomb killed 21 people in 2002.

"Investigations are continuing in order to shed light on the motives for this cowardly aggression," the interior ministry said, without referring to the shooting as a terrorist attack.

The French government condemned the "heinous act in the strongest terms", foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said.

More than 5,000 Jews, mostly from overseas, participated in this year's event, according to organisers.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.