Joint List MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) was brutally attacked by police in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied east Jerusalem on Friday, April 10, according to a report in the Zo Haderech website. Cassif was in the neighborhood to protest in solidarity with its Palestinians residents facing eviction from their homes when police violence broke out. The police were fully aware that Cassif is a member of the Knesset but brutally assaulted him despite the legal prohibition of doing so to an MK bearing parliamentarian immunity which grants freedom of movement, even at police blockades.
“In a demonstration against the settlement in Sheikh Jarrah, the cops broke my glasses, tore my shirt, and threw stun grenades [at me],” Cassif tweeted after the incident… “Of course, the cops that broke the law will receive impunity. It is important to note that the protesters did not act violently at all.”
In a video of the incident, Cassif can be seen arguing with police officers amidst a crowd, before one of them pushes him. 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 dozens of demonstrators. In another clip, an officer can be seen kneeling on Cassif’s face as he was on the ground.
“The police are going crazy here; they’re not letting people demonstrate. They were told I was a Knesset member; it didn’t interest them,” Cassif said afterward. “It’s not the violence against an MK that’s the main issue here; rather it’s the continued police brutality against all protesters,” Cassif told Zo Haderech.
Fellow Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) claimed the police have a green light from the government to act violently. “Ofer was attacked by the same government and police that are aggressively trying to impose the occupation and settler regime in East Jerusalem,” she tweeted. MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) also criticized police conduct, saying on Twitter that “police violence does not go unnoticed in any sector, and it undermines the trust of citizens and the foundations of democracy, especially when it is directed at a Knesset member. Enough violence!”
In recent months, an Israeli court has ordered the eviction of 58 Palestinian residents, 17 of them children, from seven houses in Sheikh Jarrah, according to Peace Now. The families are the descendants of refugees from the 1948 war who took up residence in the neighborhood under an agreement with Jordan, which occupied East Jerusalem from 1948 until 1967. Peace Now says settler groups are pushing for their eviction by arguing that the land belonged to Jews prior to 1948. Israel supports the return of Jews to lands they lost in the 1948 war while barring Palestinians from doing the same