According to witnesses, Paul Kessler reportedly fell and hit his head amid a confrontation with protesters on Sunday in Ventura County, as stated by the sheriff’s department. Tragically, he passed away on Monday.
Authorities in Ventura County, California, are currently looking into the passing of a Jewish man who sustained injuries during a clash at competing rallies for and against Israel and Palestine.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the unfortunate demise of Paul Kessler, 69, who was reportedly involved in a physical confrontation with counter-protestors, leading to a fall that caused a fatal head injury.
The incident occurred around 3:20 p.m. on Sunday in Thousand Oaks, a community neighboring Los Angeles within Ventura County.
After being transported to a hospital, Kessler passed away the following Monday, as stated by the authorities.
“The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that the cause of Kessler’s death was a blunt force head injury, ruling it a homicide,” the sheriff’s department announced in an official statement.
Simultaneous pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian gatherings were taking place at Westlake and Thousand Oaks boulevards, the sheriff’s department disclosed.
An ongoing investigation is being conducted by the sheriff’s department, which urges anyone present at the demonstrations or possessing relevant information to come forward and assist.
“The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, in a released statement, confirmed that it is actively investigating the incident, keeping all possibilities open, including the consideration of a hate crime.”
While the sheriff’s department refrained from providing further specifics on the circumstances surrounding Kessler’s injury, a social media post depicted Kessler at an intersection before the altercation, proudly waving an Israeli flag.
At 3:20 p.m. (6:20 p.m. ET), Kessler was captured receiving treatment on a sidewalk by a press photographer, his head resting on a homemade sign stained with blood. Online footage also seems to depict Kessler lying on the pavement, blood covering his head.
Additionally, another video suggests that despite Kessler’s injury, pro-Palestinian demonstrators persisted in chanting slogans and waving flags while police cars and an ambulance were mere yards away.
The same video revealed blood splatter on a homemade sign reading “STOP BOMBING BABIES AND FAMILIES.”
Rabbi Michael Barclay from Temple Ner Simcha, situated close to the incident site, urged restraint.
In a statement on X, Barclay emphasized, “Let us not rush to assumptions or allegations until law enforcement has the opportunity to conduct a thorough investigation or until authentic video evidence is available.”
Barclay also confirmed Kessler’s Jewish identity. The family of Kessler opted not to make any statements on Monday night, requesting privacy during this challenging time.
The Los Angeles division of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) expressed profound sorrow over the distressing loss but advised against exploiting the incident for political purposes.
In a statement released on Monday evening, CAIR aligned with local Jewish leaders, urging everyone to avoid hasty judgments, sensationalizing the tragedy for political advantages, or disseminating rumors that might needlessly exacerbate the already heightened tensions.
Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by several countries, including the United States, the European Union, Israel, and others.
It is considered a terrorist group due to its history of engaging in violent activities, including attacks on civilians, and its stated objective of the destruction of Israel.
Israel is currently at the forefront of the global battle against the anti-Semitic ideology driving the Hamas terrorist attacks on 7.10,” he stated in a post on X.
Another Israeli opposition leader, Yair Lapid, asserted in a post on X: “Paul Kessler was killed in Los Angeles because he was Jewish. It wasn’t because of Gaza; it was because of anti-Semitism.”