Press group rips strip searches at Israeli PM’s Office


TEL AVIV (JTA) — The association representing foreign correspondents in Israel condemned what it called  "the continued harassment of journalists attending media events at the prime minister’s office," criticizing strip searches of female reporters.

Israel’s Foreign Press Association threatened in a statement released Thursday to halt coverage of events at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The statement said that this week the office’s security detail had, in three separate incidents, forced three female journalists to undress, remove their bras and have their bras and personal items run through an X-ray machine in front of a group of colleagues.

"This type of treatment is unnecessary, humiliating and counterproductive. After repeated appeals and promises by security officials it appears that the Prime Minister’s Office does not have the desire to stop this happening and so the FPA will begin consulting its members over whether the foreign media should no longer cover events at the prime minister’s office as this is the only occasion where this type of incident occurs," the statement said.

One of the reporters involved said she had covered events at the White House and Guantamano Bay and had never received such treatment.

In response, officials at Netanyahu’s office said "they were looking into the matter."

The incidents follow a January incident dubbed "Bra-Gate" by the Israeli media when several foreign correspondents were strip-searched, among them Najwan Simri Diab, an Israeli citizen who was pregnant at the time and who works for Al Jazeera. She was told she had to remove her bra and other clothing before being  allowed into Netanyahu’s annual address to the foreign media.

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