Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — The presence of the Israeli Channel 13 correspondent in Mecca during the last Hajj season sparked widespread controversy on Twitter, summoning the channel and the reporter for comment.
The controversy came after “Channel 13” published a short documentary, on Monday, that was filmed during the presence of its reporter, Gil Tamari, in the holy sites in Mecca during the Hajj season.
According to the text story accompanying the video on the channel’s website, it was said that signs appeared on the outskirts of Mecca calling on non-Muslims to get off the road leading to it, but “finally, we decided to walk straight – on a road designated for Muslims only. After the security check, we ordered The Saudi policeman continued to walk towards Mecca.”
המסע למכה: שליח חדשות 13 בתיעוד מתוך העיר החשובה ביותר לאיסלאם לכתבה המלאה – https://t.co/4bg1Mnsu0K @tamary6EG https://At.
The hashtag #Jew_in_the_Haram was active on Twitter, amid mixed reactions to the reporter’s visit to Mecca.
In the face of the escalating controversy, “Channel 13” wrote in its account on Twitter, “The visit of the editor of foreign affairs to Makkah Al-Mukarramah will not come to prejudice the feelings of the Islamic nation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” He added, “We at Channel 13 news express our apologies and regrets if anyone feels angry because of this visit.”
The channel said: “We in Channel 13 news consider that knowledge and identification of important places from a first source is extremely important.”
The visit of the foreign affairs editor to Makkah will not harm the feelings of the Islamic nation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We at Channel 13 news express our apologies and regret if anyone felt angry because of this visit. Journalistic curiosity is the essence of journalistic work in order to reach all places and coverage from a first source >>
While the channel’s correspondent commented on the controversy, saying: “I would like to reiterate that this visit to Mecca was not intended to offend Muslims or anyone else. If anyone feels offended by this video, I deeply apologize. The purpose of this entire endeavor was to Highlighting the importance and beauty of Mecca.
He considered that his visit allowed “many people to see, for the first time, a very important place for our Muslim brothers and sisters and for human history.”
Disclaimer: I would like to reiterate that this visit to Mecca was not intended to offend Muslims, or any other person. If anyone takes offense to this video, I deeply apologize. The purpose of this entire endeavor was to showcase the importance of Mecca and the beauty…. https://t.co/aAxipctRrG
Tamari’s visit to the kingdom is not the first or the only one for Israeli correspondents. In early July, the Israeli “Channel 13” correspondent, Alon Ben David, announced that he had made a secret visit to Saudi Arabia. The Israeli journalist appeared in the clip while he was performing ablution and entering a mosque in the Kingdom.
The Israeli channel “I 24” also published footage of one of its reporters inside a mosque in the capital, Riyadh.
This comes within the context of an Israeli-Saudi rapprochement, amid Israeli statements about efforts to form an air defense alliance between Israel and the Gulf states under American auspices.
Last Saturday, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan denied that the Kingdom’s allowing Israeli planes to cross Saudi airspace was a step for normalization between the two countries.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden was on board the first direct flight from Israel to Saudi Arabia, to attend the “Jeddah Summit for Security and Development” attended by the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
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