Israel’s Foreign Press Association protested on Monday what it called “humiliating” treatment of a photographer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security during a press conference with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Atef Safadi, chief photojournalist with the European Pressphoto Agency, said Netanyahu’s security detail demanded he take off his pants when he arrived to cover the meeting as a pool photographer. Safadi refused and left the press conference.
He already has media credentials from the Government Press Office.
Safadi told The Times of Israel that it wasn’t the first time he was maltreated by Netanyahu’s security.
The FPA said in a statement that it was “disturbed and disappointed” by Safadi’s treatment by Netanyahu’s security, and that the photo agencies were boycotting photos from the event.
“The FPA again calls on security agencies to respect the right of journalists at such events, who already hold Israeli government press accreditation, to do their work without demanding that they endure intimate and humiliating security inspections,” the FPA said.
There will be no foreign media photos of the meeting between the French and Israeli Prime Ministers, photojournalist refuses to disrobe !
— Foreign Press Assoc. (@FPAIsPal) May 23, 2016
A Government Press Office spokesman said it was the second or third incident of its kind, and that it “tried to avoid this incident” at the time but that Safadi left before they had a chance to. The GPO said it would investigate the circumstances of the incident.
In January 2011, the FPA threatened to boycott press conferences held by Netanyahu after an Al Jazeera news crew was subjected to a lengthy security check not demanded of other journalists.
Najwan Simri Diab was asked to strip and remove her bra, and Shirin Abu Aqla was reportedly held for an hour and then rejected, Haaretz reported at the time.
“I am not against a search and a security check, but I am against invasive humiliation,” Simri Diab told the paper at the time. She said it wasn’t the first time she was subjected to such treatment.