Pregnant TV reporter objects to 'humiliating' Israeli security checks

A pregnant newswoman from the Arab Al Jazeera television network walked out of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's annual foreign press conference after security officials asked her to remove her bra.

Arab reporters, who were among several hundred foreign journalists invited to the briefing and cocktail reception held Tuesday evening, complained that they were subjected to humiliating and invasive security checks upon arrival, prompting an angry response from the Foreign Press Association in Israel. "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," the FPA said in a statement.

Najwan Simri, a 31-year-old Palestinian producer at Al Jazeera, said that she was humiliated by the rigorous security search. "They told me to take off my jacket, my skirt and then my shirt, and finally, they told me to take off my bra," she said. "I then thought to myself, 'Enough, I won't do it'."

Ms Simri, who is in the early stages of pregnancy, said she was ushered on arrival into a queue of other Arab journalists where she waited upwards of half an hour before she was taken out for a strip-search. A female officer then roughly groped her and insisted on using a metal detector even after being told her of her condition, the producer claimed.

Ms Simri then demanded her clothes back, saying that she wanted to leave, but was forced to endure another lengthy wait in her slip. She and a female colleague who had not yet been searched walked out. "I have no problem with security, but I felt this was done not to check me, but rather because I am an Arab," Ms Simri said.

Reporters and photographers from other Arab channels also complained about their treatment, but the FPA said that the invasive searches were not confined to Arab media. The Wall Street Journal's Jerusalem bureau chief, a white American, was also forced to undergo a strip-search, it said.

In a letter of complaint, Walid al-Omary, the Jerusalem bureau chief of Qatar-owned Al Jazeera, reminded Israeli officials that its journalists had come to the press conference at Israel's invitation. "We demand that we be treated equally and are not discriminated against because we are Arab journalists," he wrote. "These humiliating methods... harm our [ability to] work."

The invitations had asked corres-pondents to arrive at least an hour before Mr Netanyahu was due to speak to allow enough time for the security checks. Most Western journalists attending the event were processed swiftly, and were not asked to strip. "We regret the incident, however the issue of security checks is not the GPO's [government press office] responsibility," said Oran Helman, director of the GPO.

Israel's security service said in a statement to Israel's Ynet website: "All guests were subjected to a security check in accordance with the customary security procedures in such events. Three female reporters refused to be examined under these procedures and chose not to attend the event."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk