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Israeli lawmaker beaten by police for protesting against Jewish settlements

Published: Updated:

An Israeli lawmaker said Friday that police beat him while he took part in a demonstration against a Jewish settlement in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Ofer Cassif, a Jewish member of the mostly Arab Joint List party, was attending a protest against the expansion of a Jewish settlement in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood of occupied east Jerusalem.

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An AFP correspondent on the scene witnessed police officers grabbing Cassif and forcing him to the ground, while in footage of the incident published by local Channel 13 News, protesters are heard shouting “member of parliament” in Hebrew.

“They started to beat me, they broke my glasses... they went crazy,” Cassif says in the Channel 13 footage.

“They didn’t care that I’m a member of parliament,” he said.

Israeli policemen detain Israeli MP Ofer Cassif, a Jewish member of the predominantly Arab Joint List electoral alliance. (AFP)
Israeli policemen detain Israeli MP Ofer Cassif, a Jewish member of the predominantly Arab Joint List electoral alliance. (AFP)

Cassif’s spokesman Itai Aknin told AFP the injured lawmaker had been taken to hospital and that the demonstration had been “peaceful and calm” before police arrived.

A police statement said initial investigations showed a protester had “attacked one of the officers”.

“The attacker” was released once it “became clear that it was a member of parliament”, the statement added.

Right-wing lawmaker Gideon Saar tweeted after the incident that “the police’s brutal violence against him (Cassif) is a murderous blow to the parliament and to parliamentary immunity”.

Saar, who said he “despises” Cassif’s worldview, is a former loyalist of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and supports Israeli settlements.

Centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid called the incident “shocking” and urged police to investigate.

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