Israeli Lawmaker Filmed Beating Cop During West Bank Demo

Left-winger Ofer Cassif said a police officer threatened to shoot him during a protest against the eviction of thousands of Palestinians from a region in the West Bank

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Joint List Lawmaker Ofer Cassif, at the Knesset in February.
Joint List Lawmaker Ofer Cassif, at the Knesset in February.Credit: Noam Rivkin Fenton

Lawmaker Ofer Cassif was filmed Friday striking a police officer during a protest against the eviction of Palestinian families from the Masafer Yatta region of the West Bank.

The footage shows Cassif leaving his car and punching an officer on the top of the head. The two then begin arguing. 

The police said they would ask Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara to let them investigate Cassif on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. Cassif is a member of the Arab-Jewish Hadash party, a member of the four-pronged Joint List of Arab parties.

According to Cassif, an officer threatened to shoot him, and during the demonstration, the police "restricted my freedom of movement," thus violating his parliamentary immunity.    

A Palestinian activist injured in a clash with settlers, in the West Bank, on Friday.Credit: Guy Butavia

Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev condemned him, however, saying that Cassif had "crossed every line and acted disgracefully." Bar-Lev accused Cassif of using his parliamentary immunity "to gain political capital," adding that he would be speaking with the Knesset speaker and the attorney general on the matter.

Earlier Friday, the army blocked buses from reaching Masafer Yatta, where about 200 left-wing activists were heading, including several Knesset members from the Joint List and Meretz legislator Mossi Raz.

Some activists said that when they walked by the Mitzpeh Meir outpost on their way to Masafer Yatta, they were attacked by masked Jews who threw stones at them. Raz said he was kicked by a settler.

A Palestinian activist was taken for treatment after his nose was broken in the attack, and an Israeli activist broke her elbow when a police officer pushed her, eyewitnesses said.

In another area leading to Masafer Yatta, the army blocked four additional buses of activists, one carrying Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman.

The army said that to prevent possible disturbances, it was temporarily limiting the entry of people who were not from the area.

On Wednesday, Israel's Civil Administration in the West Bank razed 19 structures in the Masafer Yatta region, the first such demolition since last week's High Court ruling saying the government could expel residents from the area, which was declared an army firing zone in the 1980s.

The police also aim to investigate another Joint List lawmaker, Ahmad Tibi, amid allegations that he helped a suspect flee police in East Jerusalem on Thursday. 

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