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Major Attacks Against Synagogues Around the Globe

Workers repair damage in the historic Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, April 21, 2002, after an explosion April 11, 2002, causes by a suspected extremist attack that killed 21 people.

A synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on Saturday, which left 11 people dead, is “likely the deadliest” such attack in US history, an American civil rights group said.

Here is a list of major attacks on synagogues around the world over recent years, and of attacks on other places of Jewish community life.


On April 11, 2002, 21 people died in a suicide attack on the Ghriba synagogue, on the island of Djerba, in the south of the country. Among the dead were 14 Germans, five Tunisians and two French citizens. A tank truck driven by a Tunisian and filled with inflammable gas blew up outside the synagogue, which is the oldest place of Jewish worship in Africa. The attack was claimed by al-Qaida.


On Nov. 15, 2003, vehicles filled with explosives were used against two synagogues in Istanbul, Neve Shalom and Beth Israel, killing 30 and injuring 300. Five days later, the British consulate and an HSBC building came under attack. A Turkish cell of al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the four attacks, which claimed a total of 63 lives.


On Nov. 18, 2014, an attack by two Palestinians against a synagogue in western Jerusalem claimed five: three Israeli-Americans, one Israeli-Briton and a Druze policeman. The Har Nof neighborhood, where the attack took place, is considered to be a bastion of the ultra-orthodox Shas party. The attack was the first against a Jewish place of worship in Jerusalem. Both attackers were shot dead by police.


On Feb. 14, 2015, a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin, having pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, opened fire on a cultural center in Copenhagen, which was hosting a freedom of speech conference, and killed a filmmaker.

Later that night, he also killed a 37-year-old Jewish man who was standing guard outside a synagogue where a bar mitzvah was being held.

The attacker was then killed in a shootout with police.

Not just synagogues

In addition to synagogues, many other places of Jewish community life have been attacked over the years.

In France, on March 19, 2012, a 23-year-old French-Algerian Islamist killed three children and a teacher in a Jewish school in the southwest of the country.

In the U.S., on April 13, 2014, a white supremacist known for his anti-Semitic views attacked a Jewish community center and retirement home in Kansas, killing three people, none of whom were actually Jewish.

In Belgium, on May 24, 2014, a man opened fire in the lobby of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, killing four. The alleged killer, French-Algerian Mehdi Nemmouche, was arrested in France in June of this year and extradited to Belgium for trial.

In France, on Jan. 9, 2015, four Jews were killed during a hostage-taking in a Jewish supermarket in Paris by a Jihadist.