The Foreign Press Association is outraged over the treatment members received at the hands of Israeli security personnel during Tuesday night's invitation-only gathering with the prime minister. 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.
Several members were forced to remove their underwear, waiting for as long as 20 minutes in this humiliating situation while security checked their documents. Others, including the bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, were strip-searched and forced to take off their pants. A number of members walked out of the event in disgust following this despicable treatment.
It is incomprehensible that anyone would think such humiliating treatment is necessary at such an event. All GPO (Government Press Office -- ed.) card holders are known to authorities and have already undergone extensive background checks. All participants emptied their pockets, submitted their equipment to inspection and went through metal detectors to enter.
The Shin Bet has its responsibilities but it must also operate within reasonable parameters. In a democratic country security services are not permitted to do as they please. For a government trying to usher in a new era of relations with the foreign media, it is a peculiar way to start. We are confident the prime minister would not accept such abusive security checks for his friends or family.
We ask for assurances that this will not happen again or we will respectfully decline further invitations.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association
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