A synagogue in Sfax, Tunisia, was vandalized for the third time on April 30, according to various reports.
Local media put the blame on teenagers from a nearby high school. The same reports suggested that the assault on the building was not religiously motivated, and that the students were just “having some fun,” according to French-language news site DesInfos.com.
Though no longer in service — for lack of religious patrons — the synagogue houses many religious texts, including Torah scrolls.
The site had previously been vandalized in August of 2011 and December of 2012.
Some 1,500 Jews live in Tunisia, which is considered one of the Arab world’s most liberal countries. More than half of them are on the island of Djerba, where Africa’s oldest synagogue, the focus of an annual pilgrimage, is located.
Approximately 500 Jews participated in the pilgrimage last year, the news website Djerba Salon reported. It was a fraction of the thousands that used to attend before 2002, when terrorists detonated a bomb outside the El Ghriba synagogue during the pilgrimage period. Twenty-one people died in the explosions, which several intelligence agencies attributed to al-Qaeda.
Tunisians are currently embroiled in a heated debate over allowing Israeli tourists into the country, which does not recognize the Jewish state.
The dispute is not over Jews from third countries, who are openly welcome. Hardliners say allowing Israelis in is tantamount to recognition of Israel.
AFP and JTA contributed to this report.