Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia
Ghriba synagogue in TunisiaHezki Baruch

Diplomats from the United States and France on Sunday visited the Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia's Djerba island to commemorate a deadly attack there last year, AFP reported.

French ambassador Anne Gueguen and Natasha Franceschi, the US deputy chief of mission in Tunisia, lit candles and placed flowers inside Africa's oldest synagogue, according to the report.

Thousands of Jews flock annually to the Ghriba synagogue to celebrate the holiday of Lag Ba’Omer.

During last year’s celebrations, a terrorist attack targeted the synagogue. Two Jews – cousins Aviel Hadad and Ben Hadad – and three police officers were murdered in the attack.

This year’s pilgrimage was supposed to be cancelled altogether due to security concerns, but organizers later said the three-day event "will be limited".

As the diplomats visited Djerba, only about a dozen Jewish pilgrims attended the festival which started on Friday.

In 2018, about 3,000 people took part in the festivities. In 2019, hundreds of people attended. The pilgrimage then took a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 and resumed in 2022.

Djerba covers an area of 514 square kilometers and is the largest island off North Africa. The island is home to one of the last Jewish communities in the Arab world, and houses the Ghriba synagogue, which is the oldest in Africa and is believed to date to the sixth century BCE.

In September, UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, added Djerba to its list of World Heritage Sites.