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Joint List MK files complaint after police beat him at protest

Ofer Cassif says violence against him was a symptom, a violation of the sovereignty and dignity of the Knesset

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif who was allegedly attacked by Israeli police officers during a protest, arrives to file a complaint at the Police Internal Investigations Department, in Jerusalem on April 11, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Joint List MK Ofer Cassif who was allegedly attacked by Israeli police officers during a protest, arrives to file a complaint at the Police Internal Investigations Department, in Jerusalem on April 11, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif on Sunday filed an official complaint against police, after he was beaten by officers on Friday during a protest in East Jerusalem, rejecting the force’s claim that he was to blame for the violence.

Cassif, the only Jewish Knesset member in the predominantly Arab Joint List party, arrived at the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department to lodge the complaint.

Before entering, he declared, “The violence against me is a symptom.”

Cassif added that the beating was “a violation of the sovereignty and dignity of the Knesset.”

MK Ofer Cassif, a Jewish member of the predominantly Arab Joint List electoral alliance, is pictured after being beaten and detained by Israeli police, during a demonstration in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on April 9, 2021. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Cassif was participating in a weekly demonstration in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood against planned evictions when the violence broke out.

Officers initially said that Cassif had hit them first. The most recent version of events offered by police said that the Knesset member had incited the officers to beat him, allegedly saying that he dared them to hit him.

Speaking to the Kan public broadcaster Sunday morning, Cassif described the police claim as “a string of lies.”

He said that aside from filing a complaint with the PIID, he will ask Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to open his own investigation into the incident.

Cassif said that was necessary “due to the possibility of attempts to obstruct the [Police Internal Investigations Department] investigation.”

Additionally, Cassif said he would file a complaint with the Knesset Guard about death threats he had received in the wake of the incident.

In footage of the Friday incident, Cassif can be seen arguing with police officers amid a crowd, before one officer pushes him.

A mask-clad Cassif appeared to say something, with the officers proceeding to strike and violently grab him.

Cassif then reached his hand toward the face of one of the officers, who punched the MK on top of the head.

After wrestling Cassif to the ground, some of the officers appeared to continue beating him, as shouts of “shame” could be heard from the demonstrators.

In another clip, an officer can be seen kneeling on Cassif’s face as he was on the ground.

Cassif sustained light injuries, his glasses were broken and his shirt was ripped during the scuffle. Police used stun grenades to clear protesters.

Footage shows nearby protesters shouting at officers, telling them to stop and identifying Cassif as a lawmaker.

“He’s an MK. Are you psychopaths?” one person can be heard asking in the video shown on Channel 12 news on Saturday. “You’re a group of psychopaths!”

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