- A 69-year-old Jewish man died after a physical altercation with a pro-Palestine protester at a pro-Israel rally in Ventura County, California.
- An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was blunt force head injury.
- The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Authorities in Ventura County, California, are investigating the death of a 69-year-old Jewish man who was killed while attending a pro-Israel rally during a “physical altercation” with a pro-Palestine protester.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department responded to reports of battery at a demonstration on Westlake and Thousand Oaks Boulevards after a verbal altercation broke out between Paul Kessler and an unnamed protester on Sunday afternoon, according to authorities.
“Witness accounts indicated that Kessler was involved in a physical altercation with [pro-Palestinian] counterprotesters,” a department press release stated. “During the altercation, Kessler fell backwards and struck his head on the ground.”
An autopsy done on Monday revealed that Kessler’s death was ruled a homicide, and the cause of death was blunt force head injury, according to authorities.
Additionally, the department said it is continuing to investigate the incident and have not ruled out the “possibility of a hate crime.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles wrote in a post on X Monday accusing the pro-Palestine protester of throwing a megaphone at Kessler.
The group wrote that “violence against [the Jewish] people has no place in civilized society,” and that they will “not tolerate violence against [the Jewish] community… [and] will do everything in [their] power to prevent it.”
“Our hearts are with the family of the victim,” the group wrote in a Monday night post. “While we wait for more information from our law enforcement partners, we remind you that this is the fourth major anti-Semitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone.”
Footage circulating on social media shows a man lying on the ground with an apparent head injury as two people, including a woman with a jacket emblazoned with “Free Palestine,” come to his aid.
Meanwhile, no arrests have been made as the investigation is still ongoing.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benny Gantz said that Kessler’s death is “a warning light that must reverberate throughout the world.”
“The murderous ideology of Hamas that led to the terrible massacre on Oct.7 is not only Israel’s problem, and the entire free world must unite against it and fight it to stand on the right side of history,” Gantz said, according to Israeli media.
The tragic death of a Jewish man during a pro-Israel rally in California is a stark reminder of the rising violence against the Jewish community.
The incident, being investigated as a potential hate crime, occurred during a physical altercation with a pro-Palestine protester.
This senseless act of violence should not be tolerated in any civilized society. It is imperative for law enforcement to swiftly bring the perpetrator to justice.
The international community must stand united against the hateful ideology that fuels such acts and support Israel in its fight against terrorism.
We mourn the loss of this innocent life and call for an end to anti-Semitic crimes.
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