Israel Closes Probe of Police Officer in Sheikh Jarrah Attack of Lawmaker

The Justice Ministry concluded that the officer used 'reasonable' force against Joint List member Ofer Cassif, who confronted police during a protest by Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
A police officer hits lawmaker Ofer Cassif during a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, in April.
A police officer hits lawmaker Ofer Cassif during a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, in April.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI - AFP
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The Justice Ministry has decided to close a probe into a police officer accused of attacking Israeli lawmaker Ofer Cassif during a protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in April, citing lack of evidence.

Cassif, a Knesset member from the Arab-majority Joint List, and several officers clashed during a demonstration against Jewish settlement in the neighborhood, with video footage showing the lawmaker arguing with policemen before they began hitting him. Cassif later required medical attention.

According to the decision, which was announced Friday and passed by State Prosecutor Amit Aisman, it can't be ruled out that Cassif attacked the officer first.

The Justice Ministry's department for investigating police officers did sanction disciplinary action against two officers, who prevented Cassif from leaving the site of the demonstration even after they learned that he was a Knesset member.

The department told Cassif in a letter there was no way to determine whether the officers knew Cassif was a Knesset member before his brief detention.

Ofer Cassif after being attacked by police, in April.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

"The officer's account of events cannot be refuted because Cassif's arrest was made because he attacked the officer, or at least because in real time the officer thought so and therefore decided to make the arrest," the letter read.

Another police officer who was present at the demonstration will also be subject to disciplinary action.

The Justice Ministry's department concluded that "since it cannot be ruled out that the arrest [of Cassif] was justified, the use of force used to make the arrest was found to be reasonable under the circumstances of the case."

It also stated that "the analysis of the various pieces of evidence and versions that emerge from the material of the investigation led to the conclusion that the chances of conviction in the case are not likely."

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