El Al Apologizes for Strip-searching U.S. Professor

Neuroscientist Heather Bradshaw was subjected to a physical search despite an invitation from Hebrew University.

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

Heather Bradshaw, a neuroscientist, was travelling from the United Kingdom to Israel at the invitation of the Hebrew University when she was subjected a physical examination in which she was asked to remove her bra.

bradshaw - Haaretz - November 1 2010

She told Haaretz that El Al security personnel detained her at Luton airport in London on October 31, confiscated all of her belongings, and repeatedly questioned her.

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

On Monday, 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 that it had opened an investigation.

The airline also promised to compensate Bradshaw for the incovenience caused to her and the late arrival of 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.

Following the incident, Hebrew University officials 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".