Police attacked Hadash lawmaker MK Ofer Cassif on Friday, August 16, for waving a Palestinian flag, during a protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem against the increased presence of settlers in the area. Cassif’s parliamentary aide was hit and detained by police.
Some 30 protesters, Israeli peace activists and residents of Sheikh Jarrah were attending the quiet protest. At one point police officers moved in to seize Palestinian flags from them. While the law does not prohibit demonstrating with a Palestinian flag, individual police officers are allowed to determine whether its presence could “disturb the peace.”
After an officer seized a Palestinian flag from Cassif, he and his parliamentary aide attempted to object but were physically accosted. In a video taken at the event, Cassif is seen arguing for a few minutes with police officers who seized the flag. The video shows a police officer shoving Cassif, who responded in kind. The officer then grabbed and held the lawmaker for a few minutes, while demanding that he present identification showing he is a legislator. Another police officer is seen grabbing Cassif’s parliamentary aide, forcing him to the ground and handcuffing him.
“They hit him and pushed me,” said Cassif. “I told them that I am a member of Knesset but they didn’t allow me to show my identification. A police force that is expert at planting weapons in the homes of Palestinian innocents has no problem planting violence in a quiet protest. If they had waited just another 10 minutes, we would have dispersed. It was unnecessary, stupid and tasteless.”
Cassif’s aide was taken to a police station, where he began feeling unwell because of his diabetes and was then taken to a hospital for tests. According to Cassif, police officers removed the aide from the station with his hands and feet cuffed.