Israeli journalist criticized for entering Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Israeli journalist Gil Tamari violated a blanket ban on non-Muslims entering Mecca in Saudi Arabia and the holiness of the holy city, penetrating the holiest site of Islam.

On Monday, the Israeli channel 13 News aired a 10-minute report in which journalist Tamari drove past the Haram, which houses the Kaaba, and climbed Jebel-e-Rahma (Mountain of Mercy).

Tamari, who works for Israel’s Channel 13, continued to generate hostility on Saudi social media on Wednesday, two days after Tamari posted it on Twitter and a day after he apologized for any insult he might have cause.

READ ALSO: LISTEN: Naledi’s son Pandor talks about his first Hajj

Tamari, who was accompanied by a local guide whose face was blurred so that he could not be identified, lowered his voice as he spoke to the camera in Hebrew, and sometimes switched to English to avoid impersonating an Israeli.

AFP reports that in her roughly 10-minute video, Tamari visits Mount Arafat, where pilgrims gather annually to pray during the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage.

Tamari makes it clear that she knows what he is doing is illegal, calling the site “a place not allowed for non-Muslims” and stating, “I am the first Israeli journalist on site to broadcast these images in Hebrew.”

Responding to outrage, Tamari said he simply wanted to “demonstrate the importance of Mecca” and the beauty of Islam, saying that the video “allowed many people to see for the first time a place that is so important to our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Tamari’s video justification did little to calm the angry responses on social media.

The hashtag, which translates to “A Jew in the Holy Mosque,” went viral on Twitter, where one user on Wednesday urged the Saudi authorities not to “harm the Islamic nation… allowing Jews to desecrate the city of the Messenger of God.”

“Shame on journalism”

Users took to social media to express their outrage at Tamari’s violation of the ban on non-Muslims entering Mecca.

“There are things to be said: What Gil Tamari did is a disgrace to journalism,” Yoav Limor, another Israeli journalist who recently visited the kingdom, tweeted.

Another Twitter user, Avi Kaner, also expressed outrage at Tamari’s actions.

“You have shown disrespect to your kind hosts as a publicity stunt. You have revealed absolutely nothing. There are many videos about Mecca in the public domain. You had the opportunity to make a proper apology, but instead you chose to defend yourself. You should be ashamed. “

The annual hajj in Saudi Arabia ended last week.

Around 850,000 people from all over the world performed the Hajj this year, including 1,132 South Africans.

In addition, 150,000 locals also performed the Hajj, bringing the total number of pilgrims to one million.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Medina mourns the oldest guardian of the Masjid-un-Nabawi as the Hajj comes to an end