Security guards for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stripped searched an Arab journalist working for the U.S.-funded Alhurra network at the the U.S. ambassador’s Fourth of July celebration in Tel Aviv, the network said on Thursday.
The Arab satellite channel told The Associated Press that it had coordinated with Netanyahu’s office, but security detained cameraman Samer Jallad when he arrived.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived late (was he stuck in traffic too?) waxed poetic about the meaning of freedom, liberty and justice for all,” Haaretz reported. “This, as his security men outside, who clearly did not get the memo about the theme of the evening, reportedly detained and strip searched an Alhurra network cameraman who had arrived to cover the event.”
The AP report said that Jallad was forced to remove his shoes and sit in the sun for half an hour. He was then taken to a room and ordered to remove his pants and submit to a body inspection. After 90 minutes, he was allowed to enter the event.
The network said that Jallad had previously covered Netanyahu on many occasions and had a government-issued press card.
“We find it especially shameful that a staffer of a U.S.-funded network would be the victim of racial profiling at an official U.S. event celebrating American Independence Day,” the Foreign Press Association said in a statement. “Such treatment goes against the core values of freedom and equality that the U.S. seeks to uphold.”
Netanyahu’s office explained to Haaretz on Friday that it was “still ascertaining” the facts.
“[T]he cameraman was checked in accordance with standard security guidelines,” a statement from Israeli security said. “Since he was carrying a lot of equipment with him, the security check lasted 25 minutes, after which he entered the event. We regret the delay, which was caused by security needs.”