Saudi Arabian authorities arrested a Saudi citizen who helped an Israeli journalist enter Mecca.
A statement from Saudi authorities read that, "The issue of the journalist who committed this crime has been transferred to the General Prosecutor's Office so as to take the necessary steps against him."
The country's internal security system said that, "The citizen was referred to the General Prosecutor's Office, since he cooperated with an American journalist who entered Mecca via a route for Muslims, in contradiction to the ordinances for the holy city."
"A spokesperson for the Mecca-area police said that the police transferred to the General Prosecutor's Office a citizen who aided the entrance of one of the journalists (not Muslims) who has American citizenship to the holy capital city via the route for Muslims, in a clear violation of the entry regulations to Mecca for non-Muslims. The citizen was arrested and steps have been taken against him."
"Anyone who comes to the kingdom must respect the regulations, especially with regards to the holy places and the holy religious ceremonies," Saudi Arabia's General Security said. "Crimes of this sort are considered a felony and punishments will be imposed on those committing them, based on the regulations."
On Monday, Journalist Gil Tamari of Israel's Channel 13 News posted a video of himself driving through Mecca, despite rules banning non-Muslims from entering the city.
Tamari himself was not punished, since he published his report only after his return to Israel, Middle East 24 News reported. However, the trip, which included Mount Arafat, where Muslims gather during the hajj, was not authorized by Saudi authorities.
According to Bloomberg, Tamari's behavior "provoked controversy on social media and clarified the sensitivities of closer relations between the two countries."
On Tuesday, Tamari tweeted an apology for his trip, saying he did not mean to offend Muslims.
In it, Tamari wrote, "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 of the religion, and in doing so foster more religious tolerance and inclusion. Inquisitiveness is at the heart and center of journalism, and this type of first-hand journalistic encounter is what separates good journalism from great journalism."
"This founding principle also guided us in this journalistic endeavor and allowed many people to see, for the first time, a place that is so important to our Muslim brothers and sisters, and to human history.
"Once again, if anyone was hurt by or offended by this, I apologize wholeheartedly. We had no such intention."
Channel 13 responded: "The visit of foreign news editor Gil Tamari to Mecca is an important journalistic achievement, which was not intended in any way to hurt the sensitivities of the Muslims. Obviously, if someone felt hurt, we apologize for that. We emphasize: Journalistic curiosity is the soul of the profession of journalism."
"In our opinion, knowledge and familiarity with an important place, first hand, only contributes to increasing religious tolerance and the discourse for recognition of others' faiths."