Police Request Criminal Probe Into Two Israeli Lawmakers

Ofer Cassif is accused of assaulting a cop, while police say Ahmad Tibi assisted in the escape of a Palestinian youth who is said to have hurled a suspicious object in East Jerusalem

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
MK Ofer Cassif and Ahmad Tibi in Israel's High Court of Justice in Jerusalem, in 2019.
MK Ofer Cassif and Ahmad Tibi in Israel's High Court of Justice in Jerusalem, in 2019.Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Police has requested that a criminal investigation be opened against Israeli lawmakers Ahmad Tibi and Ofer Cassif after the latter was filmed striking a police officer during a protest in the West Bank last week.

Demonstrators were protesting the eviction of Palestinian families from the Masafer Yatta region.

The police, in their request to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, accuse Cassif of assaulting a police officer, of obstructing an officer in the performance of his duties and of issuing threats. The police say the incident has been investigated and that evidence has been collected and sent to Baharav-Miara.

The incident, a video of which was posted on social media, shows Cassif striking a police officer during a demonstration against the eviction of Palestinian families from the Masafer Yatta region of the West Bank.

Cassif says an officer threatened to shoot him and said, "I did not attack an officer. This is a blatant lie. The officer pushed his hand in front of me and I deflected it." He also said the police "restricted my freedom of movement" during the protest.

Israeli-Arab lawmaker Tibi, for his part, is accused of assisting in the escape of a Palestinian youth accused of hurling a suspicious object in East Jerusalem. In a video Tibi is seen approaching police, arguing with them and separating them from the youth, who took the opportunity to slip away.

Speaking to Channel 13 News on Monday, Cassif said that he would not use his immunity as a member of the Knesset should he be charged. "Should I be investigated and made to stand trial, I will not use my immunity because I know how to defend my position. I will speak my truth in the investigation and in court, should it come to that," Cassif said.

The incident took place on Thursday near a church where the family of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh were gathered. Abu Akleh was killed on Wednesday during a raid by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Earlier this month the Israeli High Court approved the eviction of some 1,000 Palestinians from eight villages in Masafer Yatta, after a two-decade legal dispute over land that has been repurposed by the Israeli army as a firing zone, and where Palestinians have lived for generations.

Cassif is a member of the Arab-Jewish Hadash party, which is part of the four-pronged Joint List of Arab parties. Tibi is also a member of the Joint List.

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