JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Foreign journalists on Friday spoke of their distress after being asked to remove their bras for a security check before being allowed into the offices of Israel's prime minister.
The three women were told by security personnel to undress and take off their bras for x-ray in two separate incidents at the Jerusalem offices of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier last week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a parliament session at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Wednesday. (AP-Yonhap News)
All three complied with the request, despite the distress it caused, in an incident denounced by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) as "unnecessary, humiliating and counter-productive."
Each of the women was taken behind a curtain in the lobby of the entrance hall and patted down before being told to undress, then their bras were passed out in full view of male and female colleagues and security personnel, to be put through an x-ray machine.
Their personal effects were also emptied out in public view and put through the machine.
"The Foreign Press Association strongly condemns the continued harassment of journalists attending media events at the prime minister’s office," a statement from the Tel-Aviv based group said.
"This type of treatment is unnecessary, humiliating and counter-productive."
Sara Hussein, who works for Agence France-Presse (AFP), described the incident as utterly humiliating.
"I can only describe the experience as among the most humiliating in my life," she wrote in a complaint to the FPA. "I have covered meetings of presidents at the White House and not been subjected to anything similar."
Neither of the other two women reporters, both of whom were deeply distressed by the incident, wished to be identified.
All three have filed detailed complaints with the FPA, which is pursuing the matter with the Israeli authorities.
Officials at the prime minister's office refused to comment directly on the two incidents, saying only: "We are aware of the concerns and we are looking into the matter."
In January this year, Netanyahu's security staff came under fire for ordering a pregnant Arab correspondent for Al-Jazeera to remove her bra in order to attend a cocktail event for the press at a five-star hotel in Jerusalem.
The FPA said it was considering whether or not to continue sending its members to events where they risked such treatment at the hands of the premier's security team.
"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," it said.
"The FPA will begin consulting its members over whether the foreign media should no longer cover events at the PM's office as this is the only occasion where this type of incident occurs."
성적 모멸감주는 여기자들 보안검색 논란
이스리엘 총리실이 지난 주 외신 여기자 3명에게 보안 검색을 위해 브래지어를 벗도록 요구해 논란이 일고 있다.
여기자 세 명은 예루살렘 베냐민 네타냐후 총리실에 들어가기 전 엑스레이 촬영을 위해 브래지어를 벗으라는 요구에 응했으며 외국인기자협회는 이에 대해 “불필요하고, 굴욕적이고 비생산적”인 일이라고 비난했다.
여기자들은 총리실 입구 로비에 마련된 커튼 뒤에서 신체 검색을 받고 있었다. 이들이 건넨브래지어는 남녀 기자들과 보안요원들이 보는 앞에서 엑스레이를 통과했다.
외국기자협회는 성명을 내고 “총리실의 기자회견에 참가하는 기자들에 대한 계속되는 유린행위를 강력히 규탄한다”고 밝혔다.
AFP 기자인 사라 후세인은 “내 인생에서 가장 모욕적인 경험이었다. 나는 백악관에서 대통령 기자회견도 취재했으나 이런 일을 당한 적은 없었다”고 외국인기자협회에 보낸 항의서에 썼다.
올해 1월에 네타냐후 총리의 보안요원들이 예루살렘의 한 5성급 호텔에서 열린 칵테일행사에 참석하려는 알-자지라 방송 소속 임신한 여기자에게 브래지어를 벗으라고 해 비난이 쇄도했다.