Joint List MK to be questioned by police over video of him assaulting officer

Months after incident, police get permission from attorney general for probe of Ofer Cassif, a sitting member of Knesset

Then-Joint List Knesset member Ofer Cassif hits a police officer in the West Bank on May 13, 2022. (Screenshot)
Then-Joint List Knesset member Ofer Cassif hits a police officer in the West Bank on May 13, 2022. (Screenshot)

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif will be investigated by police for a filmed incident several months ago in which he was seen assaulting a police officer.

According to Hebrew media reports, Cassif is expected to be summoned in the coming days to be questioned by police over the event.

Police had to request permission from the attorney general to investigate the incident since, as a member of Knesset, Cassif enjoys parliamentary immunity in most instances.

In May, Cassif was caught on camera striking a police officer lightly on the head after security forces blocked his vehicle from reaching a protest in the West Bank.

In a widely circulated video of the incident, a police officer is seen attempting to halt Cassif’s vehicle. Cassif’s car bumps into the officer, who approaches Cassif and shouts at him to move his vehicle away.

“Move your car. You’re not getting in,” the officer shouts. Cassif shouts back: “I didn’t touch you.”

The officer angrily gestures at Cassif while shouting, and appears to touch the MK’s face with his finger. Cassif then strikes the officer on the head and shouts “You hit me in the face!”

Knesset members have parliamentary immunity, which allows them to travel almost everywhere in the country. It was not clear why Cassif — the only Jewish member of the Joint List alliance of mostly Arab parties — was barred entry from the area, or if the police officers knew who he was.

Cassif was attempting to reach a protest at Masafer Yatta — or Firing Zone 918 — an agriculture area near Hebron in the West Bank. Israel’s top court recently ruled in favor of evicting over 1,000 Palestinians from the land in a controversial case, one of Israel’s longest-running legal battles.

Under a 2005 change to the Knesset immunity law, members of the legislature no longer receive automatic immunity from prosecution but must request it from the plenum when relevant. If charges are brought against Cassif, the MK can ask the Knesset House Committee to grant him immunity from prosecution, which would then need to be ratified by the Knesset.

Likud MK Eli Cohen welcomed news of the investigation on Tuesday.

“Anyone who raises a hand against soldiers or police officers belongs in jail, definitely not in the Knesset,” Cohen tweeted.

Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben Ari also applauded the move, tweeting: “It’s about time.”

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