'Bra-Gate' Angers Foreign Press in Israel

Women journalists ordered to take off bra to be X-rayed by PM's security.

July 21, 2011, 2:15 PM

JERUSALEM July 21,2011—, 2011 -- The Foreign Press Association in Israel blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office today after the security team forced several female journalists to take off their bras before being allowed into press events.

The incidents follow a similar episode in January dubbed "Bra-gate" by the Israeli press when a female reporter for Al Jazeera was denied entrance to a Netanyahu press conference for refusing to remove her bra, after already taking off other items of clothing.

The FPA said that it condemned the "continued harassment" of journalists and said it would be discussing whether its members should continue covering events at the prime minister's office.

"In the past two days, three female reporters in separate incidents were forced to undress, remove their bras and have them placed through an X-ray machine in front of a group of colleagues," the statement read. "In addition, pocketbooks were emptied in public, with personal items also put on display and X-rayed for everyone to see."

"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," the statement said.

Pregnant Reporter Refused Security Request to Take Off Bra

The FPA said that it is only at the prime minister's office that this type of intrusive scrutiny occurs.

One of the female journalists was Sara Hussein, a reporter for Agence France-Presse. She wrote on Twitter that she had to remove her bra behind a curtain before it was x-rayed "in front of everyone."

"I've reported from the White House & Gitmo but never been stripsearched as I was today gng to a briefing w #Israel vice PM. #humiliating," she tweeted.

The prime minister's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In January, Al Jazeera reporter Najwan Simri Diab went to Jerusalem's David Citadel Hotel for Netanyahu's annual reception for foreign journalists.

The Israeli-Arab, pregnant at the time, was taken aside by Shin Bet security officers and asked to remove her clothes.

"They asked me to take off my coat and then my vest. I did," she told Israeli news website YNet. "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."

Finally asked to take off her bra, Simri Diab refused and was told she wouldn't be allowed to go in. As a spokesman from the Government Press Office walked past, she says she told him what was happening.

"Don't create a drama," she said he responded.

Simri Diab also accused Shin Bet of creating another security line just for Arab journalists.

The GPO's director later apologized, saying "I want to express my regret over the fact that journalists left the GPO's annual reception with the feeling that they received improper treatment by guards."

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