His name was Wissam Khazri who attacked the synagogue of Ghriba, on the island of Djerba, in Tunisia.
His name was released by the Minister of the Interior, Kamel Fekih, who explains that the action was planned but does not yet reveal the motive that prompted the man, a security agent on duty at the Aghir naval base, to kill two Jewish pilgrims and three Tunisian National Guard agents, as well as wounding eight other people.
According to the official reconstruction, the attacker, before attacking the synagogue, killed a colleague and took possession of his weapons and ammunition. Arriving at the temple, he began firing on security officers, who returned fire, killing him 120 seconds after the firefight began.
Fekih called the incident a "cowardly criminal act," without ever using the word "terrorism." He also said Khazri moved and acted with the aim of making as many casualties as possible.
However, official hypotheses on the motive remain unknown. It is unclear, in particular, whether the man had ties to extremist anti-Semitic groups. But it is now clear that the investigative work is focused on hatred for religious reasons, a track reinforced by the strong symbolic value of the Ghriba synagogue, one of the oldest Jewish temples in the world, for centuries a pilgrimage destination, already hit in 2002 by an Al Qaeda truck bomb, which caused 21 deaths.
Moreover, the same words of the Minister of the Interior, who calls on the security services "to be vigilant against any attempt to destabilize the country", suggest how worried the Tunisian authorities are about the possibility that the attack in Djerba is something more than the isolated action of a deranged person.
President Kais Saied convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Council. "I want to reassure Tunisians and the whole world that Tunisia will remain safe, despite all that these criminals try to do to destabilize it," Saied said.
The Tunisian Islamic party Ennhadha condemns the episode, calling it "cowardly and treacherous": it expresses "condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured", then appeals to the "strengthening of the values of coexistence and solidarity against threats to Tunisia and its people".
The civilian victims are two cousins: Aviel Haddad, 30, a Tunisian and Israeli citizen, and Benjamin Haddad, 42, French. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed deep sorrow and condolences for the death of "two members of our people." The Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Amichai Chikli, claims that "the incident was preceded by a period of tension and harassment against the Jewish community" in Djerba. The French government expresses "deep sadness" for the attack, promising "support to Tunisia in the fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of fanaticism", while the national anti-terrorism prosecutor in Paris has opened an investigation. The European Jewish Congress says it is shocked and outraged: "Terrorist attacks continue to target Jews around the world even when they are gathered in prayer," said Congress President Ariel Muzicant.
Perez Trabelsi, chairman of the Ghriba Synagogue Committee, which was in the temple at the time of the attack, says the attack was perpetrated by people who "wish to harm Tunisia." Trabelsi added that "This year about 6000,<> faithful came to Djerba, on pilgrimage, from the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe."
The Jews settled in Djerba since 586 BC: the first arrived bringing with them a stone from the ancient temple of Jerusalem, destroyed by the Babylonians. This stone is kept in a crypt of the Ghriba synagogue, built at the same time, where women and children still today, on the 33rd day of Easter, bring eggs as offerings on which greeting messages are drawn.
The Tunisian island is home to the largest Jewish population in North Africa: currently there are about 1500 people, but at the beginning of the 60s there were more than one hundred thousand, many of whom abandoned Djerba because of the policies adopted by the Tunisian government against Jewish entrepreneurs after the 1967 war between Israel and neighboring Arab countries.