An El Al airplane in flight.
An El Al airplane in flight. Photo by Archive
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An American professor who was invited to a conference in Israel claims she was humiliated by Israeli security personnel at London's Luton airport on Thursday.

Professor Heather Bradshaw, who researches neuroscience at Indiana University, was at Cambridge University when she was invited to Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a conference.

"Our guest arrived at Luton airport on Thursday in order to fly to Israel using [Israeli airline] El Al, and she was shocked to discover that straight away, the security personnel treated her as a terror suspect," said Haifa University professor Arik Rimmerman who submitted a complaint to El Al in her name.

"She presented numerous documents indicating the purpose of her visit and her passport – which shows she has already been to Israel several times," said Rimmerman. "The security personnel treated her and the documents she presented with utter disrespect."

Bradshaw told Haaretz that no one told her what she was suspected of and she wasn't explained anything. She said that security took her to a separate room and confiscated all of her belongings. She told Haaretz that she sat and waited as every few minutes a different security official came in to question her about the items in her suitcase – which were mostly books.

After the questioning, she underwent a physical examination in which she was asked to remove her bra. The exam lasted nearly an hour, and at the end of it, she was reprimanded for holding up the flight.

Bradshaw was not allowed to bring any carry-on luggage on to the flight and was only permitted her passport and three credit cards.

When she arrived in Israel, she expected someone from the airline to wait for her and update her regarding her luggage and belongings that were left behind, but no one knew anything, Bradshaw told Haaretz. She said she felt helpless and was holding back tears.

Moreover, Bradshaw's Israeli colleagues said that the flight attendant that was tending to her reproached her for coming to Israel without anything and without the proper permit for her luggage.

Bradshaw said it was the fourth time she had traveled to Israel and that this was the first time she was treated this way by security personnel. She told Haaretz that she had no idea why they decided to treat her differently this time.

El Al airline responded to the case by saying that "the airline acts according to the instructions of the defense authorities."