The Saudi police announced today (Friday) the arrest of the citizen of the country who drove the Israeli journalist Gil Tamri to Mecca, the most important city for Islam that forbids entry to non-Muslims.
The official Saudi Press Agency quoted a police spokesman in Mecca as saying that "The citizen who facilitated the entry of a non-Muslim journalist and holder of American citizenship into the holy capital (Mecca) was arrested and legal measures were taken against him".
The police spokesman confirmed that what the Saudi national did was a clear violation of the regulations that prohibit non-Muslims from entering Mecca.
He called all those coming to Saudi Arabia "Respect the regulations and obey what they stipulate, especially with regard to the two holy mosques (the Great Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque) and feelings of holiness".
He warned that any violation of this type is considered an intolerable crime, and the offenders will be punished according to the relevant regulations.
Last Sunday, Channel 13 aired the article by foreign correspondent Gil Tamri who managed to infiltrate Mecca while hiding his true identity as a Jewish citizen of Israel.
The article that was broadcast drew angry reactions on social media against the Israeli news channel and the reporter. Which brought Channel 13 and reporter Gil Tamri to publish an apology. "If anyone was hurt or offended by this, I sincerely apologize. We had no such intention." Gil Tamri wrote on his Twitter account.
Once again, if anyone was hurt by or offended by this, I apologize wholeheartedly. We had no such intention.
— Tamary Gil (@tamarygil) July 19, 2022
Channel 13 wrote in response on Twitter: "The visit of foreign news editor Gil Tamri to Mecca is an important journalistic achievement, which was not intended in any way to hurt the feelings of Muslims. Of course, if someone feels hurt, we apologize for that. Let’s be clear: journalistic curiosity is the lifeblood of the journalism profession. I believe the journalist, based on getting everywhere and documenting things first hand. These principles also guided us in this journalistic mission, which allowed many viewers an almost unmediated initial contact with this important place. This along with the curiosity and excitement in Israel surrounding the tightening relations with Saudi Arabia. In our opinion, knowing and recognizing an important place firsthand only contributes to increasing religious tolerance and discourse through learning and knowing the beliefs of others".
The Foreign Affairs Editor’s visit to Makkah will not harm the feelings of the Islamic nation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
We at Akhbar Channel 13 express our apologies and regret that anyone felt angry because of this visit
that journalistic curiosity is the essence of journalistic work in order to reach all places and cover from the first source>>
— News 13 (@newsisrael13) July 19, 2022
In the article that was broadcast, Gil Tamri said that he infiltrated Mecca without the permission of the Saudi authorities. According to him: "This city is closed to non-Muslims, and you simply cannot enter there."
he added, "It was clear to me that my chances of visiting Mecca were zero, but I managed to find the right person who agreed to take the risk".
Tamri said these words while in the background the driver is seen with his face blurred and his voice distorted.
According to him, he never admitted to the Saudi citizen that he was an Israeli journalist and added "I spoke to him all the time in English".