Israeli counter-terrorism chiefs who last month urged Israelis and Jews to avoid Tunisia watched in horror this week as dozens of Western tourists were gunned down on a beach in the North African country.
The timely warning from the Counter Terrorism Bureau in May placed the country on a Level 2 alert after receiving “updated information”. A Level 2 alert means that a “concrete threat” has been identified.
With most of those killed in Friday’s attack believed to be British or French, there is no indication that Jews or Israelis were specifically targeted, in a country boasting Africa’s oldest synagogue and a Jewish community of about 1,800.
However, fresh doubts have now been raised as to the future of the annual pilgrimage of hundreds of Jews to the island of Djerba for the the Hilula festival of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Lag Baomer.
In March, the Bureau said the string of terror attacks in Belgium, France, Denmark, Canada and Australia had “raised concerns over additional attacks against Western targets, including Jewish and Israeli targets”.
Although the 23-year old terrorist killed on Friday had no links to the Middle East, militant veterans of battlegrounds in Syria and Iraq have returned to their home countries in large numbers.
The threat posed by these fighters, and their links to local extremists, has presented one of the biggest challenges to Western intelligence agencies in recent years.
Tunisian authorities are now at pains to protect the country’s vital tourist industry, after an attack earlier this year on the Bardo Museum in Tunisia’s capital Tunis. which left 22 people dead.