A JEWISH man has died one day after he was injured in a clash at dueling Israel and Palestine rallies, cops say.
Paul Kessler, 69, suffered a fatal wound to the head at the demonstration in California and his death has now been ruled a homicide.
There were two separate rallies with supporters of both Palestine and Israel near Westlake and Thousand Oaks, said the sheriff’s office.
Authorities said Kessler got into an altercation with a counter-protestor before he was injured.
At some point he fell and hit his head on the ground, said the sheriff’s office.
What caused the altercation is under investigation, however, some reports claim that Kessler was hit in the head with a megaphone before he fell.
He was pronounced dead on Monday and the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that his death was a homicide from blunt force trauma.
“The Ventura County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident and has not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime,” the sheriff’s office said.
A video has swirled online of a man who appeared to be Kessler lying on the ground, bleeding from his head.
The five-second clip showed a woman carrying a cardboard sign with a jacket that read "Free Palestine" seemingly bending down to help Kessler.
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Several Jewish groups have spoken out, condemning the incident.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles released a statement, claiming that Kessler was attacked by a pro-Palestinian protestor.
“We are devastated to learn of the tragic death of an elderly Jewish man who was struck in the head by a megaphone wielded by a pro-Palestinian protestor in Westlake Village. Our hearts are with the family of the victim.
“While we wait for more information from our law enforcement partners, we remind you that this is the fourth major antisemitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone. Violence against our people has no place in civilized society. We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it.”
Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said there has been a rise in antisemitic incidents since the war between Hamas and Israel.
"People have a right to protest Israeli policies and actions – but in far too many cases of late, we've seen protesters veer into explicit and dangerous extremism and antisemitism. Paul Kessler's death appears to be the sadly inevitable result," she said.
"We need all decent people to unequivocally reject the hate and violence that has spiraled since October 7th, no matter their opinions on the conflict or who that hate and violence targets."
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