A Jewish man has passed away following a physical altercation with a pro-Palestinian protester in California over the weekend, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles reported that Paul Kessler, 69, was allegedly struck in the head with a megaphone on Sunday and sadly succumbed to his injuries on Monday.
The incident unfolded at an intersection in Thousand Oaks, a suburb in northwest Los Angeles, where simultaneous pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrations were taking place.
The altercation involved a verbal dispute between Kessler and an unidentified protester, as stated in a press release from the police department.
Upon arrival, officers discovered Kessler with a head injury. Witnesses informed the police that he had been “involved in a physical altercation” with at least one counter-protester.
During the altercation, Kessler fell backward, and his head hit the ground. He was subsequently transported to the hospital, where he passed away the following day.
Online video footage depicts Kessler on the ground, bleeding and clutching his head. A protester, holding a “Free Palestine” sign and sporting a Palestinian flag on her jacket, is shown leaning over him.
An individual from the local area, who had met Kessler just minutes before his passing but did not witness the altercation, recounted to Fox News Digital that he had briefly left the scene to retrieve something from his vehicle. Upon his return, he found Kessler “lying on the ground with blood everywhere.”
The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy and concluded that Kessler’s cause of death was a blunt-force head injury, classifying it as a homicide.
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As of now, the authorities have not disclosed whether charges have been filed or are anticipated in relation to the incident. However, a press conference has been scheduled for Tuesday morning to provide further details.
The local Jewish Federation noted that this marks the “fourth major antisemitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone.”
The Greater Los Angeles Area branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations expressed profound sorrow over this tragic and startling loss. They appealed to the public, urging restraint from prematurely forming conclusions, sensationalizing the tragedy for political purposes or disseminating unfounded rumors that could needlessly exacerbate the already heightened tensions.
Antisemitic incidents have seen an increase globally since the Palestinian-affiliated Hamas initiated terrorist attacks on Israel on October 7.