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Israel's national airline El Al apologized yesterday to a visiting professor strip-searched on her way to a conference in Jerusalem.

Heather Bradshaw, a neuroscientist, was traveling from Britain to Israel at the invitation of the Hebrew University when she was subjected to an interrogation in which she was asked to remove her bra.

She told Haaretz that El Al security personnel had detained her at London Luton Airport on October 31, confiscated her belongings and questioned her at length.

The examination lasted nearly an hour. When it ended, she was reprimanded for holding up the flight.

Yesterday, Bradshaw left Israel for Philadelphia in the United States on a different carrier. Before her departure, the office of El Al's chief executive telephoned Bradshaw to apologize, telling her the company had launched an investigation.

The airline also promised to compensate Bradshaw for the ordeal and the late arrival of her luggage.

Bradshaw said it was the fourth time she had traveled to Israel and this was the first time security people had treated her this way. She told Haaretz she had no idea what the problem was.

After the incident, Hebrew University wrote to El Al to warn that "the world's top scientists will now refrain from visiting Israel due to interrogations and insensitive searches at Israel's airports".