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Police reportedly seeking criminal probes of Joint List MKs Tibi, Cassif

In recent events caught on video, Cassif seen hitting cop as security forces block his vehicle, while Tibi is accused of obstructing police by helping a suspect escape arrest

Joint List party members Ahmad Tibi, left, and Ofer Cassif during a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem August 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Joint List party members Ahmad Tibi, left, and Ofer Cassif during a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem August 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police will likely ask Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara tomorrow to authorize an investigation into Joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Ofer Cassif for two separate incidents earlier this month, Channel 12 News reported Sunday.

The network, which did not cite a source, said police brass are determined in their effort to open a criminal investigation against the members of the predominantly Arab party for apparently assaulting an officer and obstructing justice.

The Attorney General needs to approve the investigations as the two lawmakers enjoy parliamentary immunity. For charges to be brought, a Knesset panel would need to vote to lift their immunity.

Cassif was filmed hitting a police officer after security forces blocked his vehicle from reaching a protest in the West Bank, while Tibi is accused of obstructing police and helping a suspect escape during an attempted arrest in Jerusalem.

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll, of the Yesh Atid party, tweeted support for police and urged the attorney general to swiftly open an investigation.

“These are two Knesset members who oppose the very existence of the State of Israel as Jewish and democratic,” he wrote. “This time they went too far.”

MK Avi Dichter, of the opposition Likud party said “it was only right that indictments” should be filed against the two.

Last Friday police said Tibi had abused his parliamentary immunity and should have been arrested himself when he got between cops and a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem they were trying to detain.

Police said they were attempting to detain a “young man” suspected of throwing an unspecified object in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina when Tibi intervened.

“During [the young man’s] detainment, a public representative showed up, obstructed the detainment, shoved, hectored and forcibly allowed the suspect to escape,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

In footage taken during the incident, Tibi can be seen yelling at police and pulling the suspect away from officers, allowing him to run away.

Police said the suspect, who was not named, was later captured following a foot chase.

Tibi’s office later said the lawmaker was worried police would beat the suspect.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev wrote on social media at the time that Tibi’s actions were “intolerable, especially coming from a Knesset member misusing his immunity.”

The same day Cassif lightly hit an officer on the head during a heated verbal exchange after police and Border Police stopped his car in the South Hebron hills to prevent him reach a West Bank protest.

In a video, a police officer attempts to halt Cassif’s vehicle. The car bumps into the officer, who approaches Cassif and shouts at him to move his vehicle away.

After a brief exchange of words, Cassif then strikes the officer and accuses him of an attack.

The parliamentary immunity also allows MKs to travel almost everywhere in the country. It was not clear why Cassif was barred entry from the area, or if the police officers knew who he was.

Cassif is the only current Jewish lawmaker in the Arab-majority Joint List party and is known for his outspoken politics and getting into heated arguments with other Jewish Knesset members.

Tibi, a veteran Knesset member and medical doctor, is among the most well-known Arab lawmakers in the country, thanks to his sarcastic made-for-social-media wit and frequent appearances on TV news programs. His high profile has also made him a target of right-wing ire.

In 2017, Basel Ghattas had his immunity lifted and he was convicted of exploiting his position when serving as an MK for the Joint List to smuggle cellphones and notes to Palestinian terror convicts in Israeli prisons.

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