Israeli police beat up and kneel on the face of left-wing Jewish lawmaker

New Knesset memberOfer Cassif at the Knesset Plenary Hall, ahead of the opening Knesset session of the new government, on April 29, 2019. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Ben Sales

(JTA) — Israeli police beat up a left-wing member of parliament and one officer knelt on his face, drawing outcry from across the political spectrum.

Ofer Cassif, the only Jewish member of the Arab-Israeli Joint List party in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, was at a protest against evictions in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Friday when he became involved in an altercation with police. The police shoved him to the ground and video from the protest shared on social media shows an officer placing his knee on Cassif’s face.

“The police are going crazy here, they’re not letting people demonstrate,” said Cassif, according to the Times of Israel. “They were told I was a Knesset member, it did not interest them.”

Police are investigating the incident.

ADVERTISEMENT
Anat Cohen at The Sheldon

“Brutal behavior like this toward any citizen is improper, let alone a Knesset member who is entitled by law to freedom of movement so he can fulfill his role,” said Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, according to the Times of Israel. Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right lawmaker, called it “grave and unacceptable.”