(JNS) Two of the four people shot dead in a terrorist attack at a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba were identified as Aviel Haddad, a dual Israeli-Tunisian citizen, and Benjamin Haddad of France.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed that Aviel held Israeli citizenship.
“Among the dead were two Jewish cousins, one with Israeli citizenship and the other with foreign citizenship,” said the ministry in a statement, adding that officials were in contact with the family of the deceased and had offered assistance.
A Tunisian national guard member fired “randomly” on security forces near Tunisia’s El Ghriba Synagogue on Tuesday evening as Lag B’Omer celebrations were underway. He was shot dead after killing the Haddads and three security guards. He also wounded at least eight others.
U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller condemned the killings, writing on Twitter that Washington “deplores the attack in Tunisia coinciding with the annual Jewish pilgrimage that draws faithful to the El Ghriba Synagogue from around the world. We express condolences to the Tunisian people and commend the rapid action of Tunisian security forces.”
Video footage shared on social media appeared to depict loud gunshots that were audible within the synagogue complex, and some reports said that hundreds of worshippers—even up to 1,000—were present at the time.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. embassy in Tunisia posted that officials—including Joey Hood, the American ambassador to Tunisia, and Deborah Lipstadt, special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, as well as senior Tunisian officials—had attended the opening ceremony of an annual pilgrimage at the synagogue the previous evening.
Some believe that the synagogue—or at least, its antecedent—dates back to the exile after the destruction of either the First Temple or the Second Temple. The current building is late 19th century, apparently on the site of a former 6th century synagogue.