Arab party MK caught on camera punching police officer

MK Ofer Cassif, attempting to reach a Palestinian protest, strikes police officer on the head with a closed first.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An MK from the Arab Joint List party was caught on video attacking a police officer on Friday afternoon, raising questions about Israel’s broad parliamentary immunity and whether that policy encompasses unprovoked physical attacks on members of the security forces.

MK Ofer Cassif, the lone Jewish member of the anti-Zionist party, was captured striking a police officer in the head during an altercation near Hebron.

Cassif was attempting to reach an area where Palestinian protesters were demonstrating, but security forces had blocked the road and ordered the lawmaker to turn back.

In a video of the incident that was widely circulated on social media, Cassif is seen refusing to respect the road block, bumping a police officer with his car. The officer then hits the hood of Cassif’s car with his open palms.

That move apparently enraged the MK, who is seen stopping and leaving his vehicle, walking up to the officer and striking him on the top of the head with a closed fist.

The police officer does not physically retaliate against Cassif, but the two point fingers in each other’s faces during a heated shouting match.

Notably, Cassif is heard in the video accusing the police officer of punching him in the face, when no such thing occurred.

It’s unclear if Cassif is making the false statement in the hopes that edited video footage later on that includes his allegation will make his attack on the officer appear justified.

MK Ahmad Tibi, Cassif’s colleague in the Joint List party, also sparked backlash on Thursday after he pushed police officers, allowing an Arab rioter in Jerusalem to successfully escape arrest.

“The security forces are standing against terrorism and risking themselves in the field, every day, all day. I am proud of them and back them,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a statement late Friday afternoon, responding to the incidents.

“I strongly condemn and view with utmost gravity the severe behavior that encourages violence, of MKs Ahmad Tibi and Ofer Cassif who cowardly hide behind their immunity, disturb police officers in their work and assault them without shame.

“[Parliamentary] immunity is in order to serve the state, not attack it.”

The police said they have opened a criminal investigation into Cassif’s violence.

In April 2021, Cassif was beaten by police officers during a protest in the eastern Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Just hours after the incident, Cassif gave several dramatic TV news interviews, in which he appeared in a blood-smeared, ripped shirt and eyeglasses with only one lens.

Cassif’s beating was widely condemned across the political spectrum, including by his long-time nemesis Betzalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionism party.