Ministry Closes Probe of Police Officer in Sheikh Jarrah Attack of Communist Lawmaker

The Justice Ministry has decided on Friday to close a probe into a police officer accused of attacking Hadash lawmaker Ofer Cassif (Joint List) during a protest in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in April, citing “lack of evidence.”

Cassif was attacked by several officers during a protest against a Jewish settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood, with video footage showing the lawmaker arguing with policemen before they began hitting him. Cassif later required medical attention. State Prosecutor Amit Aisman said, “It can’t be ruled out that Cassif attacked the officer first.”

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) beaten by police officers during a protest in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, Friday, April 9, 2021 (Photo: Activestills)

Sheikh Jarrah, which has been a flashpoint for demonstrations and protests in recent months. Police clashed with hundreds of Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, among them Hadash members, in the Arab neighborhood on Friday, ending with the detention of two Palestinians in the protest in front of the home of the Salem family, from which 11 people are facing eviction. The family is slated for eviction on December 29.

Also, an Associated Press photographer was pushed and beaten by Israeli police in an unprovoked attack Friday while covering a protest in at the neighborhood, sending him to the hospital with head injuries. The AP said it was outraged by the violence against staffer Mahmoud Illean, while a prominent journalists’ advocacy group called for disciplinary action against the officers involved.

The Israeli Foreign Press Association, which represents some 400 journalists working for international media in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said Friday’s incident was the latest in a string of attacks on journalists by the border police.

“The Foreign Press Association strongly condemns this behavior, which raises serious questions about the discipline and professionalism of the officers,” the group said. It called for a “serious investigation and appropriate disciplinary action against the officer involved.”