Israeli Police Get Green Light to Probe Leftist Lawmaker After Clash at Protest

In May, Ofer Cassif was filmed striking a police officer during a demonstration in the West Bank, but he says he was provoked

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Joint List MK Ofer Cassif demonstrating at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem last August.
Joint List MK Ofer Cassif demonstrating at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem last August.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The attorney general has given the police approval to question MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List), who in May was filmed striking a police officer at a protest against the eviction of Palestinian families in the West Bank.

In footage of the demonstration in the Masafer Yatta region of the West Bank, Cassif can be seen getting out of his car and punching an officer on the top of the head. The two then begin arguing.

In the coming days Cassif is expected to be questioned under caution – as a possible suspect – Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara said Tuesday, but Cassif called the probe the work of a double standard.

"The attorney general's decision to allow my investigation – a decision that was published in the media but I was never personally or formally informed of – is yet another layer in the law enforcement agencies' double standard," he said.

"Complaints that I and others make against police, soldier and settler violence are being ignored by the defense and public security ministers and the attorney general herself. False claims by a violent police officer … are being treated in full seriousness."

The clip drew widespread condemnation, after which the police asked Baharav-Miara for approval to question Cassif.

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

"I didn’t attack a policeman," Cassif said. "It’s a bald-face lie. The officer pushed my hand toward my face and I moved it aside."

Cassif is a member of the Arab-Jewish Hadash party, the successor to Israel’s Communist Party and a member of the three-pronged Joint List of Arab parties.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, the leader of the right-wing Zionist Spirit party, wrote that she called on the security forces “to ignore deplorable people like Ofer Cassif.”

In May, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said that Cassif “crossed every line and behaved disgracefully,” adding that the lawmaker abused his parliamentary immunity “to earn political capital.”

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