Israeli journalist sneaks into Muslim holy city of Mecca sparking fury online

Israeli journalist sneaks into Muslim holy city of Mecca sparking fury online
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An Israeli journalist, Gil Tamari, secretly travelled to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, entering religious sites traditionally reserved only for Muslims.
The Israeli journalist said breaching the holy city was a 'dream' come true for him [source: Getty]

An Israeli news reporter sneaked into Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, filming himself grinning as he passed religious sites reserved only for Muslims in Saudi Arabia. 

Gil Tamari, the world news editor at Channel 13, took a video of himself crossing into the holy city and pointing to the Grand Mosque, as seen in footage shared by his network.  

The footage sparked fury among social media users as non-Muslims are traditionally banned from entering Mecca and Medina as prescribed in verses from the Quran

“That’s me, and that’s the holy mosque…I was here in Mecca,” said Tamari as he filmed himself in the car. The driver's face next to him is blurred. 

“The dream came true,” he added.  

The Israeli was also seen on Mount Arafat, where Muslims gather during the Hajj pilgrimage, a one-in-a-life journey for devoted religious believers in Islam. 

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The text accompanying Channel 13's video read: “Gil Tamari was the first Israeli reporter who managed to get in and out on a journey in the city. And what happened when he was suspected? The full article - tonight in the main edition.” 

The footage was slammed by social media users, who decried the opened disrespect of Islamic traditions and practices. 

“[Mecca is] Islam’s holiest site which by Islamic jurisprudence is only allowed for Muslims. This is after repeated Israeli attacks on Islam’s third holiest site, in Jerusalem. Do they realise what they’re doing?” said Iyad el-Baghdadi, president of the Kawakibi Foundation NGO. 

Tamari's stunt follows successive Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, where Palestinian worshippers are routinely harassed and tear gassed by Israeli police and troops.

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Last week, several Israel journalists travelled to Saudi Arabia to cover US President Joe Biden’s Middle East tour. 

Ahead of the president’s flight to the kingdom, Saudi Arabia announced it was opening its airspace to Israeli planes, a move that was widely perceived as step towards normalisation. 

Palestinians and their allies are highly critical of normalisation agreements - already brokered between the Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco- given the systematic persecution of Palestinians by Israel.