An Israeli journalist has breached a total ban on non-Muslim access to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, triggering an online backlash and potentially straining growing ties between Tel Aviv and Gulf nations.
Israel’s Channel 13 News aired a 10-minute report on Monday in which its journalist Gil Tamary is seen sneaking into Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, in violation of a ban on non-Muslims.
Tamary, who was accompanied by a local guide, billed the report as a scoop to document the annual Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj.
A Saudi citizen who allegedly helped the journalist enter the holy site has been arrested, police in the kingdom said on Friday.
In the clip, Tamary visits Mount Arafat, where Muslim pilgrims gather to pray during the climax of the hajj pilgrimage each year.
Tamary, who was in Jeddah covering United States President Joe Biden’s visit on Friday, apologised after the online backlash saying he had not intended to offend Muslims.
“If anyone takes offence to this video, I deeply apologize,” he wrote in English on Twitter.