Foreign Media Boycott Netanyahu Press Conference Over Security Search

YERUSHALAYIM -

Foreign press photographers took the unusual step of boycotting the joint press conference of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his visiting French counterpart Manuel Valls to protest mistreatment of a colleague at the hands of security personnel.

Netanyahu’s security detail had demanded that pool photographer Atef Safadi disrobe for a body search before entering the venue. The Ramallah-based Safadi, who works for European Press Photo Agency, refused to comply and left.

In a statement, the Foreign Press Association said it was “disturbed and disappointed to hear once again that a photographer covering an event with the Prime Minister was asked to take part in a humiliating security check …”

“As a result, there was no independent journalistic access for the foreign media, and agencies refused to use photos released by the Government Press Office because of this restriction to access.”

The pro-Israel watchdog Honest Reporting noted that the incident was not an isolated one, citing “the disgraceful treatment of reporters like Simri Diab, Sara Hussein, and an Al-Jazeera cameraman by the prime minister’s overzealous guards.”

While HR was “not prepared to say there’s a pattern of deliberate misbehavior” – as it pointed out, “hundreds of reporters cross Israeli borders and attend media events without any problems” ­­- it said that the incidents does “suggest something’s amiss.”