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California professor arrested in connection with fatal incident at pro-Palestinian rally

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A California university professor, Loay Alnaji, has been taken into custody and charged with involuntary manslaughter and battery following the death of 69-year-old Paul Kessler at duelling pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel rallies near Los Angeles.

Kessler lost his life after falling and hitting his head during demonstrations concerning the Israel-Hamas conflict earlier this month.

The arrest, made by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, occurred early on Thursday. Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko subsequently confirmed that Alnaji would face charges of involuntary manslaughter and battery in connection to the incident.

Kessler was part of a group of pro-Israel demonstrators at a pro-Palestinian rally in Thousand Oaks, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles, the day before his tragic death on November 6.

Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff revealed earlier this month that investigators concluded Kessler fell backward, striking his head, but video evidence did not distinctly capture any physical altercation preceding the fall. Sheriff Fryhoff had mentioned that the possibility of a hate crime had not been ruled out during the investigation.

This arrest comes amid ongoing global demonstrations sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel and the subsequent Israeli bombardment of Gaza. According to Israeli officials, around 1,200 people, predominantly civilians, lost their lives in the Hamas attacks.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in Gaza reports that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has resulted in a death toll of at least 11,500, including more than 4,700 children. The legal proceedings against Professor Alnaji add a legal dimension to the complex and sensitive dynamics surrounding the ongoing conflict.

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