Central synagogue in Tbilisi
Photo: Yoav Zitun

Georgian Jews wary of Hezbollah

Synagogue attendance in Tbilisi drops by 70% Saturday after Israel issues warning against possible attacks by Hezbollah, which threatened revenge recently on third anniversary of Mughniyeh's death

TBILISI – Hezbollah's threats of retaliation against Jews worldwide for the death of one of its commanders three years ago reached the capital of Georgia Saturday, where prayer services saw a 70% drop in attendance due to fears of attacks.


Some 7,000 Jews reside in Tbilisi, many of them religious or semi-religious. On Saturday, most of them preferred to stay home to pray after Israel issued travel warnings for Georgia on the third anniversary of Imad Mughniyeh's assassination.


But those residents who chose to attend synagogue prayers told Ynet they did not feel threatened. "We are behaving as usual and carrying out our routines," one resident said. "The city here is considered safe for us. We haven't been told to disguise our religion, and the locals are treating us the same."


At the entrance to Tbilisi's central synagogue a guard stood watch Saturday, but prayer-goers said this was routine. "I don’t think Hezbollah will come all the way here, but in any case we are staying alert," one said.


The Georgian capital has two synagogues, two Jewish schools, and a community center, none of which are regularly guarded. According to reports, the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi is operating as usual, in contrast to other diplomatic missions which have been shut down recently due to Hezbollah's threats.


On Thursday a local Turkish paper reported that Israel had shut down its missions in the country. "Israel temporarily shut down the consulate in Istanbul and the embassy in Ankara due to security needs and following threats by Hezbollah," the Milliyet revealed.


The paper also quoted a source in the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, who said that "the missions have been closed since Friday and it is unclear when they will reopen, due to an attack planned by Hezbollah as retaliation for Imad Mughniyeh's assassination".



פרסום ראשון: 02.19.11, 11:57
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