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Israeli MK indicted for assaulting police during 2022 protest

Ofer Cassif, the only Jewish member of the Arab-majority Hadash-Ta'al Party, has been at the center of several Knesset controversies.

Knesset member Ofer Cassif speaks at the Knesset Plenary Hall, in Jerusalem, on May 14, 2019. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
Knesset member Ofer Cassif speaks at the Knesset Plenary Hall, in Jerusalem, on May 14, 2019. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.

Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has filed an indictment against lawmaker Ofer Cassif (Hadash-Ta’al) for assaulting a police officer two years ago, Hebrew media reported Thursday.

The lawmaker is alleged to have struck an officer in May 2022 after being prevented from participating in a protest against a court ruling ordering the evacuation of Arab villages on Mount Hebron in Judea.

Security forces preparing for the evacuation had restricted the flow of traffic and declared various locations in the area closed military zones. Nevertheless, a demonstration took place, during which a Border Police officer told Cassif that he could not access it with his vehicle.

Cassif allegedly got into an argument with the officer before driving slowly toward him and hitting his leg. In response, the officer struck the hood of the vehicle and shouted at Cassif, who then allegedly got out of the car and hit the officer. Cassif has denied attacking the officer, but police are said to be in possession of evidence.

The Israel Police and State Prosecutor’s Office had previously recommended that Cassif be prosecuted over the incident.

The only Jewish member of the Arab-majority Hadash-Ta’al Party, Cassif has been at the center of many controversies.

Last month, lawmaker Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) began the unprecedented process to impeach Cassif and remove him from the Knesset after the far-left politician signed a petition in support of the genocide charges that South Africa lodged against Israel in the International Court of Justice.

During a Feb. 19 vote in the Knesset plenum, 85 Knesset members voted to oust Cassif, just below the 90 needed in the 120-member legislature. Opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party did not back the initiative.

In October, Cassif was suspended from the Knesset for 45 days for anti-Israel comments he made in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

The Knesset Ethics Committee based its decision on remarks Cassif made that drew a connection between the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust and “current government policy in times of war.”

Cassif caused a firestorm in November 2022 by declaring that Aryeh Shchupak, 16, was a “victim of the occupation” after he was murdered in the terrorist bombings in Jerusalem.

Earlier that month, Cassif asserted that Jews living in Judea and Samaria were liable for Palestinian attacks against them as they are not innocent civilians. “They live as a thorn in the throats of the Palestinians,” he said, adding that Palestinian attacks were “not terror.”

In 2021, in a Facebook post marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, Cassif referred to Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails as “political prisoners.” He also shared an image of a prison cell with the caption: “May all the captives be released!”

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