The Defense Ministry has apologized to The New York Times following a complaint
filed by a pregnant photographer from the paper, alleging that soldiers at the
Erez Crossing compelled her to pass through an X-ray machine three times,
despite her protests that this endangered her pregnancy.
Ministry said it has also launched a comprehensive investigation into the
'Female journalists in Israel face extreme violence'
David Furst, the international picture editor at The New York
Times, wrote a letter of complaint on behalf of the photographer, Lynsey
Addario. The letter was received by Oren Helman, the director of the Government
Addario said she called Shlomo Dror, the spokesman at the
Erez Crossing on October 24, to tell him that she was going to cross into Israel
from Gaza that afternoon and that her doctor had advised her – since she was
27-weeks pregnant at the time – to ask for a hand security check and to avoid
going through the X-ray machine.
Though Addario said Dror assured her
this would not be a problem, she said that upon her arrival at Erez, she was
given the option of “taking off all my clothes down to my underwear, and being
searched through glass.” Addario said that “to avoid the humiliation,” she
decided to pass through the Xray machine once.
According to Addario, when
she walked through the machine, “a handful of soldiers watched from the glass
above the machine smiling triumphantly.”
She said the soldiers then told
her there was a problem with the initial scan, and made her pass through two
more times “as they watched and laughed from above.”
She said that each
time she passed through the machine she expressed her concern about the
radiation’s effect on her pregnancy. Afterward, she said, she was then brought
into a room where a woman asked her to remove her pants, and lifted up her
“I asked if that was necessary after the three machine checks, and
she told me it was ‘procedure’ – which I am quite sure it is not. They were
unprofessional for soldiers from any nation.”
Calling her treatment
“gratuitously rude and unprofessional,” Addario – who noted that she had
traveled to over 60 countries in her 15-year career as a photojournalist – said
she had “never, ever been treated with such blatant cruelty.”
a letter to the Defense Ministry’s spokesman Shlomi Am Shalom, asked for the
matter to be “investigated urgently” and said that he was “shocked by the
incident” as described by Addario.
“The complaint speaks for itself, and
is definitely extraordinary in comparison to others received by the Government
Press Office, regarding the treatment of foreign journalists,” he
On Monday, the Defense Ministry finally responded to the complaint
and said that it had “sharpened” inspection procedures at the Erez Crossing to
prevent similar incidents from recurring. It said that the use of the X-ray
machine was not dangerous and that the inspection of the photographer was done
in accordance with security procedures.
“In extraordinary circumstances
it is possible to conduct a body inspection instead of [using] the X-ray machine
but due to problems in coordination and a specific overload at the crossing, the
photographer’s request did not reach the inspectors in time,” the Defense
Ministry said in its statement.
“The Defense Ministry employs strict
security measures in order to prevent attacks by terrorist groups. We expect
people to understand this.
Nevertheless, we have apologized to The New
York Times and the photographer,” the statement read.