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Four journalists prevented from covering Clinton's press conference in Jerusalem

(MADA/IFEX) - Ramallah – 17 July 2012 - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemns Israeli security services for insisting that Palestinian journalists undergo degrading strip searches before covering the visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Jerusalem this week.

MADA said four journalists were subjected to degrading inspections and were asked to remove their clothes, while they were seeking to attend Clinton's press conference on Monday 16 July 2012.

"Al-Ayyam" newspaper and Associated Press correspondent Abdel Raouf Arnaout told MADA that he had gone to report on the press conference at around 7pm when Israeli security asked him and his fellow journalists, WAFA agency reporter Faiz Abbas, "Al-Quds" newspaper correspondent Mohammed Abu Khadir, and journalist Ziad Abu Ziad, to take off their clothes and undergo a search before entering. The journalists refused and left.

Arnaout added: "We protested and asked them to treat us the same as any other foreign and Israeli journalists, but Israeli security did not respond so we left and refused to follow their orders. The U.S. Consulate contacted us and expressed their regret for what happened and said that it was outside of their control."

Chairman of the Palestinian Photojournalists Committee Awad Awad told MADA Center that there were two media events. "The first, in the morning, was a photo opportunity involving the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad. When I went there, I was asked by Israeli security to take off my clothes, but I refused and in the end they agreed to allow me to enter without being subjected to this humiliating inspection. However, some other colleagues were subjected to such treatment. We reject the way which Palestinian journalists were treated differently - we demand to be treated the same way as Israeli and international journalists."

These are not the first reports of Israeli security personnel seeking to subject Palestinian journalists to humiliating searches. For example, three female Palestinian journalists reported having to undergo degrading inspections while seeking to enter a press conference by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 22 July 2011.

MADA calls for an end to Israeli violations of media freedoms and to humiliating searches of Palestinian journalists while they are legitimately working to report on events and meetings.

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