[Talking to the Times of Israel, Tzion said he left Saudi Arabia a few days ago and is now in a country that has diplomatic relations with Israel.]
Jerusalem: An Israeli Jew has stirred controversy after publishing videos and photos of himself allegedly inside Al Masjid Al Nabawi in Medina.
The Israeli Jew - a blogger, who writes under the name Ben Tzion for the Times of Israel, angered many after posting images of himself inside one of the holiest site of Islam, Al Masjid Al Nabawi, or the Prophet’s Mosque.
Ben Tzion is pictured in traditional Arab dress alongside other visitors to the mosque in Medina, royanews.tv reported today.
“Jewish and Arab people share common history and blood lineage to Abraham/Ibrahim,” he wrote on Instagram.
“With love and mutual respect, peace would come to the entire Middle East region,” he added.
Photos and videos Ben Tzion posted Monday on his social media accounts from within the mosque had been viewed more than 30,000 times and garnered some 3,500 comments
However angry comments from some Muslim users prompted Instagram to suspend his account on Tuesday, Times of Israel said in a report.
As per the Saudi law, only Muslims are permitted to visit the holy sites in the Kingdom and there are checkpoints at every entry and exit locations to the holy sites. It is hence a mystery how Tzion entered Madina.
On his part, Tzion said he didn’t hide his Jewish identity and entered the holy site legally after obtaining a valid visa.
made great efforts not to offend anyone, he said. “When I am going to a holy site, I go there with respect, with dignity and love toward people. Not with hatred or mockery or trying to be, in any way, shape, or form, disrespectful. This would be the last of my intentions. I go there as a friend.”
“I never try to create any issues in any country. I am going there as a private individual, as a Jewish person. People are aware I am Jewish, I wear a kippah, I look Jewish. If you look at my photos from Amman, you’ll see I wear a kippah", he said.
In Medina, too, Tzion tried to play by the rules, he added, saying that Saudi Arabia only demands that pilgrims to Makkah get a special Hajj visa, while all other religious sites are open to the public. He has no plans to go to Makkah, Islam’s holiest site, he added.
Talking to the Times of Israel, Tzion said he left Saudi Arabia a few days ago and is now in a country that has diplomatic relations with Israel.
The furore on social media comes at a time of apparent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
An Israeli minister this week publicly admitted for the first time that the two countries have been in covert contact.
Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have any official diplomatic ties but there has long been speculation that the countries might be working together to confront Iran in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister has denied any ties between the kingdom and Israel.
“There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” Jubeir said in an interview on Monday.
Saudi Arabia’s leaders are sensitive to claims that they are working with Israel and the Jewish state is seen as an enemy by much of the Saudi public.