El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia 370 (R).
(photo credit: Mohamed Hammi / Reuters)
Israel on Thursday reiterated its advisory not to travel to Tunisia for the
famed Lag Ba’omer celebrations set to take place there next week, saying it had
information of possible terrorist activity in the country.
Security Council Counterterrorism Bureau has today decided to reiterate the
existing travel advisory regarding Tunisia in light of plans to perpetrate
terrorist attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets ahead of the upcoming Lag
Ba’omer pilgrimage,” it said in a press release.
In past years, thousands
of Jews from around the world traveled to the Tunisian island of Djerba to take
part in the annual Lag Ba’omer event.
Last year, in the chaotic aftermath
of the uprising that removed longtime dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali from
power, the event was canceled amid security concerns.
This year’s Lag
Ba’omer event is seen by some as a test to determine whether the new
democratically elected government formed by Ennahda, an Islamist party, will
protect the country’s religious minorities.
A senior member of the Jewish
community on the island, which numbers around 1,300 people, told The Jerusalem
Post he expected several hundred participants from France to take part in the
religious gathering this year. He said that while that number was much smaller
than previous years, it was an improvement from when it was called off last
year. The Tunisian Jew added that he believed his government would provide
adequate security for the event.
Most Jews in Tunisia live on Djerba, an
island several hours drive south of Tunis, the capital. The community is
clustered around the El Ghriba synagogue, an ancient house of worship and
tourist attraction. Two terrorist attacks have occurred at the synagogue, the
last in 2002 when a suicide bomber killed 21 people, mostly
Last month, a senior Tunisian government officials said the
Jewish pilgrimage was a source of pride for the country and committed to uphold
religious tolerance in the country.
Lag Ba’omer is a Jewish holiday
commemorating the death of Rabbi Akiva, an important Jewish sage, and the
short-lived victory of Jewish rebels against the Romans in the 2nd century CE.