A Jewish Man’s Death in a California Protest Clash Deemed Homicide
A Jewish man involved in a clash during pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests in California has died, with law enforcement and a Jewish organisation describing his death as a homicide. Paul Kessler, aged 69, sustained fatal head injuries during the altercation. As of Monday night, no suspects had been arrested. The authorities believe this appears to be an isolated incident, though they have not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime.
The confrontation occurred amid heightened emotions in the United States due to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Since the outbreak of this conflict, there have been increased threats against Jews, Muslims, and Arab Americans, as reported by U.S. officials and civil rights organizations.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has identified the victim as a Jewish man and labelled the incident as the “fourth major antisemitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year.”
The incident took place during simultaneous pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the city of Thousand Oaks, located approximately 40 miles west of Los Angeles. According to the sheriff’s office, Kessler was involved in a physical altercation with counter-protesters. It was not specified which side initiated the confrontation. During this altercation, Kessler fell backward and suffered a head injury, ultimately succumbing to his injuries on November 6, 2023.
The sheriff’s office has requested assistance from the public for this active and ongoing investigation. A press conference about the incident is scheduled for Tuesday.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, citing unspecified sources, stated that the victim was struck on the head with a megaphone by pro-Palestinian protesters, characterizing it as an antisemitic crime. The federation condemned violence against their community and called for safety and a zero-tolerance approach to violence targeting their community.