- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A U.N. investigative panel has reported that at least 219 people were killed during the weeks of street protests in Tunisia that forced the ouster of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

The leader of the eight-member U.N. team, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, added that 510 people had been injured and that the casualty counts were not final.

Tunisia’s transitional government earlier had announced a death toll of 78.

Meanwhile, a synagogue in Tunisia’s souther Gabes region was targeted by arsonists Monday night, a religious leader said.

“Someone set fire to the synagogue on Monday night and the Torah scrolls were burned,” said Trabelsi Perez, a Jewish communal leader and head of the famous Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, according to AFP. “What astonished me was that there were police not far from the synagogue.”

The incident sparked memories of an April 2002 al Qaeda bombing of Ghriba in which 21 people were killed.

Tunisia’s Jewish population - estimated between 1,000 and 2,000 - is second only to Morocco’s in the Arab world.