Saudi Who Helped Israeli Journalist Into Mecca Arrested

Screenshot of Israeli journalist Gil Tamary in Mecca.

A man suspected of helping Israeli journalist Gil Tamary into Mecca has been arrested, authorities in Saudi Arabia said Friday.

In a press statement, the Saudis said that “the police spokesman for the Mecca region has announced that it has handed over to the general prosecutor a citizen who helped one of the non-Muslim journalists, who has American citizenship, into the holy capital on the path for Muslims, a clear violating of the rules about entry to Mecca for non-Muslims. The citizen has been arrested and action is being taken against him.”

The Saudi security service added that “anyone who comes to the Kingdom must respect the rules, especially regarding the holy places and holy religious ceremonies. A violation like this is considered a crime and those who committed it will be punished.”

In recent days, Tamary’s visit has kept Saudi social media sites buzzing. Some expressed regret that the incident might have put an end to any potential normalization with Israel, while others attacked King Salman and said that the “shame would follow him until the day he died.”

On Monday, Channel 13 News ran an item by Tamary, who had been helped into Mecca by a local resident. Tamary, who holds dual citizenship, filmed at the site and could have been arrested had he been found out while still there.

Saudi social media star Mohammed Saud, who is pro-Israel, criticized the channel in a video he uploaded.

“My dear friends in Israel, a journalist of yours entered the city of Mecca, holy to Islam, and filmed there shamelessly,” Saud said on Twitter. “Shame on you Channel 13, for hurting the religion of Islam like that. You are rude.”

Tamary has apologized. In a tweet, he said that his visit to Mecca had not been intended to offend Muslims or anyone else. “If anyone takes offense to this video, I deeply apologize,” he wrote.

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