Jordanians Order Israeli Tourists to Leave Kever Aharon

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli tourists visiting Kever Aharon in Jordan encountered mistreatment at the hands of local authorities, a tour guide told the Times of Israel.

Roni Ayalon, who has led Israeli groups to the site on a mountaintop in the area of Petra for several years, said that the experience was “incredibly humiliating” and “demeaning.”

“It started at the border when they began confiscating yarmulkes and head coverings,” Ayalon said in a phone call. “They then told us we cannot pray anywhere in Jordan. They said even if we are alone in the middle of the desert, we cannot pray.”

“They really did not want us to go to Aaron’s Tomb. They even canceled jeeps we ordered to take us there on Thursday,” he said. “We still wanted to go and found Bedouins who agreed to drive us close by.”

Upon arriving at the site, the Israelis started singing and dancing, which prompted the Jordanian police to order them to leave.

“They made us go down and they didn’t let anyone else come up,” he said. “What happened is not right. It was incredibly humiliating and demeaning. Imagine what would have happened if a Jordanian tourist visiting Jerusalem were treated this way.”

The incident found its way onto Jordanian social media, causing a public uproar.

Jordanian Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Minister Abdul Nasser Abu al-Basl accused the Israelis of illegal entry and decided that Jordan would henceforth require that visitors obtain prior government approval, according to a statement by the Awqaf Ministry, which oversees holy sites in the Hashemite kingdom and Yerushalayim.

An official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Times that Israel and Jordan were discussing the matter, but would not elaborate.

Spokespersons for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi also would not comment.

Meanwhile, Ayalon said that the Foreign Ministry asked him to “stay out of the headlines.”