Tripoli protesters: 'No place for Jews in Libya'

The synagogue in Hara Kbira, Tripoli

The synagogue in Hara Kbira, Tripoli

An exiled Libyan Jew who was forced out of Tripoli last week for attempting to repair the ancient synagogue has been targeted by anti-Israel protesters.

Psychotherapist David Gerbi returned to his birthplace last week hoping to restore lost traces of Jewish life to the country. But Dr Gerbi, who now lives in Italy, was met at the disused Tripoli synagogue by armed guards and told that if he continued with his efforts he could be killed.

The situation was compounded on Friday, just before Yom Kippur, when hundreds of demonstrators in Tripoli staged a protest against Jews and Zionism.

According to the Jerusalem Post, they waved signs that said: "We don't have a place for Zionism" and "there is no place for the Jews in Libya".

Dr Gerbi had not yet left Tripoli and his hotel was surrounded by the protesters, who tried physically to remove him from the building and were only prevented from doing so by Libyan security officials.

He is to be flown back to Rome on a military plane. But Dr Gerbi, who was 12 when his family fled Libya, expressed sadness that his presence "should set off so much hostility".

"It has served to expose the dangerous reality simmering beneath the surface," he said.

Last updated: 9:24am, October 10 2011