Authorities in the United States have initiated a homicide investigation into the tragic death of an elderly Jewish man amid clashing pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Paul Kessler, aged 69, passed away on Monday after a confrontation led to him falling and hitting his head during dueling protests in Thousand Oaks, located in the northwest of Los Angeles.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department has not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime in this case. According to the sheriff’s office, witnesses reported that Kessler was engaged in a physical altercation with counter-protestors, leading to his fall and head injury.
No suspects have been taken into custody by law enforcement as of now. The incident is considered an isolated occurrence and not part of a larger coordinated effort.
Social media footage depicts Kessler on the ground with a head injury, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles claimed on social media that a pro-Palestinian protester struck Kessler’s head with a megaphone. The group strongly condemned violence against the Jewish community, although they did not provide a source for their claim.
Local rabbi Michael Barclay urged caution in drawing conclusions about the incident, noting that conflicting reports had emerged and there was no video evidence available at the moment.
This incident follows events involving increased tensions in the region, including a recent Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s response in Gaza, resulting in casualties on both sides.