Israeli official apologises for frisking of scribes

Israeli official apologises for frisking of scribes


  As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, several members of the foreign press corps who showed up for the party on Tuesday with personal invitations and press cards they can only acquire after extensive background checks, were told to remove their clothes during screenings conducted by Israel’s Shin Bet security service.

The incident was called “Bra-Gate” by The Jerusalem Post because one Arab-Israeli journalist working for Al Jazeera, Najwan Simri Diab, was denied entry to the event because she agreed to take off some of her clothes but refused to remove her bra.
An Israeli photographer, Menahem Kahana, told Haaretz that he was subjected to extra screening and was asked to remove his trousers.


The Foreign Press Association in Tel Aviv said in a statement that it was “outraged over the treatment members received at the hands of Israeli security personnel during Tuesday night’s invitation-only gathering with the prime minister.”

The statement continued: While we appreciate the need for security, it is not remotely acceptable to invite people for cocktails at a five-star hotel and then make them undress at the door. Several members were forced to remove their underwear, waiting for as long as 20 minutes in this humiliating situation while security checked their documents.
Others, including the bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, were strip-searched and forced to take off their pants. A number of members walked out of the event in disgust following this despicable treatment.

In an interview with Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the Al Jazeera employee, Simri Diab, noted that although this was the sixth year she and her colleagues had been invited to attend the event. “When it was our turn they saw that we had Israeli identity cards, but still took us aside. We waited for half an hour and saw more Arab journalists joining our queue. In fact, they created a queue for Arabs and a queue for other journalists. I was angry,” she said.

Extra screening

Despite this, the journalist, who is pregnant, said that she cooperated with the extra screening. “They later took me downstairs to the security check cell. They asked me to take off my coat and then my vest. I did. Then they asked me to take off my shirt. I took a deep breath and did it. I was left with just my undershirt and trousers, without my shoes and the rest of my equipment.

“The female officer felt me with her hands for 15 minutes in any place possible. I told her I was pregnant and asked her not to use the manual device, but compromised on that later too,” Diab said. She drew the line, however, at also removing her bra.

In a blog post, another woman who works in Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau, Sherine Tadros, wrote: “As female journalists working in this region we constantly find ourselves putting clothes on to please Hamas and taking them off to please the Israelis.”

Yedioth Ahronoth reported last year that a Palestinian photographer who has worked for the newspaper for decades, Atta Awisat, was forced to strip by Shin Bet security agents before he was allowed to photograph a meeting between Israel’s President Shimon Peres and first graders. After that incident Israel’s president personally apologised to the photographer.

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