Behind the scenes of the attack at an ancient synagogue in Tunisia, causing four people to be killed, the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency have been monitoring a serious threat against the Jewish community in Djerba for a number of months, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
A senior Israeli government official said in a closed discussion with Jewish leaders two months ago that "in a small Jewish community in Tunisia, Jews are being picked on by the press and by local police, with a sense of antisemitism coming from the local government."
The senior official said that "We're working on monitoring the situation with the Jewish Agency and with the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, trying to create an impact and try to bring these Jews to Israel."
"We're working on monitoring the situation with the Jewish Agency and with the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, trying to create an impact and try to bring these Jews to Israel."Senior Israeli government official
A secret plan for massive aliyah to Israel from Tunisia
None of the relevant institutions and ministries agreed to comment on this statement but have said that there is a delicate situation in Tunisia regarding the Jewish community. Other officials have said that there is a secret plan for massive aliyah from Tunisia, but it is unclear if the Jewish community members are interested in immigrating to Israel.
Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Minister Amichai Chikli (Likud) tweeted on Wednesday in response to the shooting and related to the secret discussions about the Tunisian Jewish community, "about a month and a half ago, in view of the tensions in the country, we held an emergency discussion of the Diaspora Affairs and Aliyah and Integration ministries, with the Jewish Agency, in which we agreed on a joint action that would help the members of the community who wish to immigrate to Israel."
אירוע קשה בקהילה היהודית בטוניס, שני הרוגים מהקהילה היהודית ושני שוטרים שפעלו לסכל את הפיגוע, האירוע הסתיים. לפני כחודש וחצי קיימנו לנוכח המתיחות במדינה דיון חרום של משרד התפוצות, העלייה והסוכנות היהודית ובו סיכמנו על פעולה משותפת שתסייע לבני הקהילה החפצים בכך לעלות ארצה.— עמיחי שיקלי - Amichai Chikli (@AmichaiChikli) May 10, 2023
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich tweeted that "the shooting at the ancient synagogue in Djerba at a time when hundreds of Jews are celebrating the revelry of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is another reminder of the vital need to act hard against terrorism all over the world." Smotrich added that he wishes to "share in the grief of the families and strengthen the Jewish community in Djerba."
In June, two policemen standing guard at the Grand Synagogue in the center of the Tunisian capital of Tunis were stabbed. It is not clear whether anyone was in the synagogue at the time of the attack, AFP reported. The suspect, who was imprisoned in 2021 over a terrorism case and has since been released, wounded the officers but was overpowered.
Diplomatic Israeli sources told the Post on Wednesday that the fact Jews were killed by a local policeman, emphasizes the concern in which the situation in Tunisia is unstable for the Jewish community.
"The Jewish community has been consistent with internal reports stating that the Tunisian police have been hostile towards the Jews in Tunisia," the source said, adding that "we need to offer them an escape plan."