The Foreign Press Association in Israel sent a sharp letter to the Prime Minister's Office Thursday, complaining of multiple humiliating incidents, which the organization claims both impedes foreign reporters' work, as well as erodes their professional standing.
The FPA denounced what it called "the continued harassment" of foreign reporters who arrive at the PM Office's media events, adding that unless policies change, they may stop covering the PMO altogether.
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"The Foreign Press Association strongly condemns the continued harassment of journalists attending media events at the Prime Minister’s Office," said the letter.
"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. 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 and so 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," the letter concluded.
Government Press Office Director Oren Helman said that the incidents described in the letter were "disturbing and damaging to Israel's image," adding that "this was an embarrassing mishap, which we will try our best never to have happen again. We apologize for any anguish caused to the reporters. This is most certainly not our policy."
Since taking office in September, Helman added, "The GPO has been taking a series of steps meant to improve the position of the foreign press in Israel. We are trying to implement that to the issue of security checks as well."
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