The Mossad has increased its activities in Tunisia following the revolution which toppled the regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, a Tunisian magazine reported on Monday.
The magazine quoted a report by an Egyptian research institute which claimed that the Mossad was collaborating with American intelligence and is conducting espionage activities in Tunisia.
According to the report, the spy network is spread out in several cities in Tunisia and each branch deals with a different destination. For example, the report said, the branch in the capital Tunis handles Algeria, the Djerba branch deals with Libya, while the branch in the city of Sousse deals with issues within Tunisia.
The report also claimed that the Mossad focuses on three goals: building networks of destruction and incitement, tracking what is happening in Libya and Algeria as well as monitoring the activities of pro-Palestinian Authority groups in Tunisia.
The spy network is reportedly also monitoring the activity of the Tunisian opposition, especially those opposition parties which oppose the PA’s peace process with Israel. It is also reportedly safeguarding the interests of the Jewish community in Tunisia.
Tunisia’s president, Moncef Marzouki, recently called on the country’s Jewish population to return to his country, saying Tunisia’s Jews are full-fledged citizens and those who had left the country were welcome to return.
Today, Tunisia has a Jewish population of only 1,500, but in the 1960s there were 100,000 Jews in the country. Most left following the 1967 Six Day War, but the emigration to Israel started in the 1050's.
Most Tunisian Jews now live on the resort island of Djerba, near the country’s border with Libya, once called the Island of Cohanim because so many Jewish families who could trace their lineage to Moses' brother Aaron, the first High Priest lived there. A 2000 year old synagogue, the El Ghriba, is one of the oldest in the world, and located on the island.
The Islamist Ennahda party won the country’s first post-Arab Spring election. That party, too, said it welcomed Jews in Tunisia, saying that “Tunisia remains, today and tomorrow, a democratic state that respects its citizens and looks after them regardless of their religion…. Members of the Jewish community in Tunisia are citizens enjoying all their rights and responsibilities.”