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Israel warns Jewish pilgrims of ‘severe’ terror threat in Tunisia

As Lag B’Omer festival approaches, counter-terror agency sees ‘concrete’ jihadist threat on historic Djerba island

A tourist visits El Ghriba, the oldest synagogue in Africa, on the Island of Djerba, southern Tunisia, October 29, 2015. (AP/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A tourist visits El Ghriba, the oldest synagogue in Africa, on the Island of Djerba, southern Tunisia, October 29, 2015. (AP/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Monday highlighted a “severe” travel advisory for Tunisia.

Many Jews who hail from the Mediterranean Arab country travel each year to the island of Djerba in the country’s south, the historic home of an ancient community of Jewish priestly families, to celebrate the Lag B’Omer holiday, which this year falls on May 25-26.

The bureau, a branch of the Prime Minister’s Office, on Monday urged Israelis and Jews not to visit the country this year due to the “high” likelihood of attacks by jihadist groups.

“Terror groups, especially global jihadist [organizations], continue to operate in Tunisia and to launch terror attacks,” the bureau said in a statement.

“In light of that fact, the threat level posed to Jewish targets is high. The Counter-Terrorism Bureau therefore reiterates the severe travel advisory for Tunisia (‘severe concrete threat’) ahead of the Lag B’Omer pilgrimage to Djerba island, and recommends against the visit.”

On Thursday, Tunisian special forces said they had captured a nine-member al-Qaeda-affiliated terror cell operating In the country’s western border.

Last year saw two major jihadist terror attacks in the country, both targeting foreign tourists. In March, 21 tourists and a police officer were gunned down at Tunis’s National Bardo Museum, while in June an attack on a resort in Sousse, in the country’s north, left 38 tourists dead.

Djerba’s own historic El Ghriba synagogue was the target of a suicide truck-bomb attack on April 11, 2002, which killed 16 foreign tourists and three Tunisians. That attack was claimed by al-Qaeda.

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