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A Palestinian man reads a book during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip east of Jabalia on May 18, 2018. An Israeli police officer assaulted a Palestinian journalist covering pro-Gaza protests in Haifa on May 18. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Palestinian journalist assaulted while covering pro-Gaza protests in Haifa

May 31, 2018 10:22 AM ET

An Israeli police officer assaulted Palestinian reporter Nahed Dirbas, a journalist for the London-based news website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, while she was covering a protest against Israeli actions in Gaza in the Israeli city of Haifa on May 18, 2018, according to news reports, her employer, and the regional press freedom group SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.

"I was covering a protest in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and how the Israeli police was crushing the demonstration when a policeman suddenly pushed me and I rolled down a staircase and hit the ground. I couldn't stand up until a while later. I sustained bruises in my legs and knees and broke my glasses as a result of the fall. I couldn't continue to cover the protest," Dirbas told CPJ.

When she identified herself as a journalist to the police officer who had pushed her to the ground, the officer said he belonged to the Riot Police Unit, Dirbas told CPJ.

Footage of the protests posted on social media shows the Israeli police using force to disperse the protesters by pushing them to the ground, dragging them away, handcuffing them, and putting them into police cars.

According to news reports, the Israeli police arrested 21 protesters during the protest. They were all released three days later, news reports said.

Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting every Friday since March 30, 2018, over Israel's refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their pre-1948 homes, according to news reports.

Since the protests began, CPJ has documented that live rounds fired by the Israel Defense Forces have hit at least 22 journalists, two of whom--Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein--later died from their injuries.

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