Five people have been killed in a shooting outside Africa’s oldest synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, 

The attacker, a National Guard member, killed a colleague at a naval installation, then travelled to the synagogue where an annual pilgrimage was taking place and opened fire on police and visitors before he was shot dead.

Two Jewish cousins, one French and the other Israeli-Tunisian, were killed, along with one police officer who died at the scene and another two who have since died in hospital. 

Israel’s Foreign Ministry described the attack as a “lethal shooting incident”, with a spokesperson saying it was still under investigation.

Worshippers attending the pilgrimage described a scene of panic after gunshots rang out, as people tried to hide in different rooms of the synagogue.

“People were happy and dancing until we heard a lot of gunfire. Everyone ran away… some hid in my office and others in the other rooms. There was lots of fear,” said Peres Trabelsi, head of Djerba’s Jewish community.

The attacker arrived on a quad bike and was wearing body armour, said Rene Trabelsi, Tunisia‘s former tourism minister who organized the pilgrimage, adding that the two cousins had tried to hide behind a bus outside the synagogue.

“We heard the shots and knew it was related to an attack,” he said, adding that he had been inside the synagogue with his family when the shooting began.

The pilgrimage to Africa’s oldest synagogue regularly draws hundreds of Jews from Europe and Israel to Djerba, located just off the coast about 500 km (300 miles) from the capital Tunis.

The pilgrimage has had tight security since al Qaeda militants attacked the synagogue in 2002 with a truck bomb, killing 21 Western tourists. Mainly Muslim Tunisia is home to one of North Africa’s largest Jewish communities with about 1,800 members.


This year, we want to do more to bless Israel and the Jewish people.

We know that as we bless Israel this year, God will bless us, just as He promised in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Now is the time to bless Israel and the Jewish people.