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High Schoolers Vandalize Tunisian Synagogue

Prayer books and shawls littered the ground in third such incident in four years

Hannah Dreyfus
May 06, 2014
Beith El synagogue in Sfax, Tunisia. (Facebook)
Beith El synagogue in Sfax, Tunisia. (Facebook)

The Beith El synagogue in Sfax, Tunisia was ransacked last week, JTA reports. The floor of the synagogue was littered with prayer books and Jewish prayer shawls according to a report filed by human rights activist and attorney Ftouh Souhail.

Footage of the incident, which has been identified as an act of anti-Semitism, reveals that the vandals were a group of 10 high school students wearing hoods to conceal their identities. A video of the synagogue after the incident is available here.

A 76-year old congregant identified as R. Perez said, “They tore apart walls, paintings and threw them to the floor … this is vandalism directed against the Jewish heritage of Sfax. I cried like a child at the sight of my place of worship in this state.”

According to Souhail, who monitors the country’s Jewish population of 1,700, this was the third instance of “pro-Palestinian elements” targeting the congregation. Previous incidents occurred in August 2011 and December 2012, and included the stealing of 120-pound silver chandeliers.

“Tunisia has seen a wave of anti-Semitism since the 2010 revolt,” Souhail wrote. The Tunisian interior ministry, which reports on crimes, did not offer immediate information about the incident.

Hannah Dreyfus is an editorial intern at Tablet.