Tunisian singer Saber El-Rebai sparked a social media storm after a photo of him posing with an Israeli soldier went viral, garnering negative reactions on Twitter, with many accusing the artist of normalising relations with Israel.
The photo was taken during El-Rebai's departure from Palestine through the border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank, following the singer's successful concert in Rawabi city in the occupied West Bank 18 August.
The photo was posted on the Twitter account of the Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat Arabic) one day following the concert which was reportedly attended by 18,000 Palestinians.
For his part, El-Rebai issued a press release via his official Facebook page in which he asserted that the official was a Palestinian cross-border coordinator named Hady, and that the photo was taken at the officer's request. El-Rebai said he immediately agreed to pose with Hady, not thinking the photo would cause such repercussions.
"He [Hadi] was responsible for arranging the crossing of El-Rebai and his band so they would not have to deal with Israeli officials," read the press release.
In a phone call to the TV show Yahdoth fi Masr (Happening in Egypt) which airs on Masr live satellite channel, El-Rebai stressed on the aforementioned, adding that he agreed to hold the concert on the condition that he only deals with Palestinian officials.
This claim however was not convincing to many social media users who asserted that it was clear that Hady is an Israeli soldier, since he was wearing the Israeli army uniform.
"Saber El-Rebai is not stupid or ignorant. He took a photo with an officer wearing "the Israeili army uniform." He is a singer with a good voice but he doesn't care about Arabs and the shedding of their blood, nor about the occupation of the land," tweeted @samykamaleldeen.
"The incident is generating more [reactions] than it should. My position has always been clear and in support of the Palestinian people and against normalisation [with Israel]. I even stated that in a presser held prior to the concert," El-Rebai stated in his phone call to Yahdoth fi Masr.
"I was happy [i held] a concert in Palestine and that Palestinian people enjoyed it, despite all the troubles they are surrounded with," he added.
El-Rebai stated in the press release that this incident "will only strengthen his support for the Palestinian cause, and his belief in the rights of Palestinians to live like [normal] people," adding that "visiting the prisoner does not constitute an act of normalisation with the imprisoner."
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