A Jewish worshipper prays during a pilgrimage to the El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba April 28, 2013.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tunisia is not the place to go to celebrate Lag Ba’omer, the National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau made clear on Wednesday, issuing an advisory for the third year in a row against making a pilgrimage to an ancient synagogue on Djerba to mark the holiday.
According to the advisory, terrorist groups – especially global jihadist terrorist organizations – continue to try to carry out attacks against a wide variety of targets in Tunisia. “In light of this, and in advance of the Lag Ba’omer pilgrimage expect to take place to Djerba (May 13-14), there is a danger of attacks, including against Jewish targets.”
Because of the “gravity of the threats,” the statement read, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau recommends that Israelis refrain from visiting the country, and calls on those already there to leave immediately.
In the past, Lag Ba’omer processions near the El Ghriba synagogue on the island – a synagogue restored in the 19th century that dates back to the First Temple period – have attracted thousands of people from around the world, including France, Britain, the US and Israel.
Security high for annual Jewish pilgrimage in Tunisia.
The synagogue was the site of an attack in 1985, when three people were killed.
In 2002, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for a truck full of explosives that exploded near the synagogue, killing 21 people.
In 2015, Tunisia increased security on Djerba for the Lag Ba’omer procession, which attracted some 500 people.
Tunisia’s armed forces have increasingly been cracking down on extremists allied to Islamic State and al-Qaida’s North African branch, especially since the country suffered four major attacks in the last two years, including two against foreign tourists.
More than 3,000 Tunisians left over the last few years to fight for Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Tunisian authorities are trying to prepare for the security threat from many of them returning.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for most of major attacks in Tunisia, including the Sousse hotel attack and the Bardo museum attack, which killed dozens of foreign tourists in 2015, and raids by terrorists crossing from Libya into the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane in 2016.
Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed to this report.