An elderly Jewish man has died after being attacked by a violent anti-Israel “protester” during a pro-Hamas rally in California.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department identified the victim as 69-year-old Paul Kessler.
Authorities announced that Kessler died on Monday evening after a “physical altercation” with a violent “protester” on Sunday.
The anti-Semitic “protester” is believed to have struck Kessler in the head with a megaphone he was using to rile up the pro-Hamas mob during the rally.
The blow reportedly knocked the 69-year-old unconscious, causing him to hit his head on the ground as he collapsed.
Deputies responded to reports of a battery at a demonstration on West Lake and Thousand Oaks Boulevards.
Witnesses say a verbal altercation broke out between Kessler and an unnamed pro-Hamas activist on Sunday afternoon, per a department press release.
“Witness accounts indicated that Kessler was involved in a physical altercation with [pro-Palestinian] counter-protesters,” the release continued.
“During the altercation, Kessler fell backward and struck his head on the ground.”
The department said it is continuing to investigate the incident and the “possibility of a hate crime” has not been ruled out.
Kessler’s autopsy at the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death to be blunt force head injury.
The manner of death has been determined to be a homicide, per the release.
The department is requesting that anyone who witnessed or captured footage of the incident call Detective Stump at (805) 384-4745.
A graphic video posted online shows Kessler on the ground bleeding and holding his head.
A “protester” holding a “Free Palestine” sign and wearing a Palestinian flag embroidered on her jacket could be seen leaning over him.
A local man who was at the protest met Kessler minutes before he died, though he did not witness the altercation.
The man said that he left to get something from his car and, when he returned, he saw Kessler “lying on the ground with blood everywhere.”
Multiple onlookers dialed 911 but were unable to get through, including the alleged perpetrator, the man shared.
He said Kessler “was out,” but had “moments where he lifted his head, touched the back of his head [and] lifted his legs up.”
“He took a very hard jar to the back of his head.
“His brain must’ve [been] swollen.”
In a post on Twitter/X on Monday evening, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles wrote that the pro-Hamas protester attacked Kessler with a megaphone.
— Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (@JFedLA) November 7, 2023
Witnesses described some of the anti-Israel protesters as “extremely aggressive” and said they were yelling at police and “trying to incite a reaction or response.”
The pro-Palestinian protesters could also be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” in a video shared on X.
The protesters continued to demonstrate after the attack where Kessler had been lying on the ground.
Anti-Israeli protesters continued chanting at the scene were the 65-year-old Jewish man Paul Kessler allegedly got beaten and later lost his life.
His blood was still on the ground… pic.twitter.com/A8ph0lkUGI
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) November 7, 2023
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles wrote that “violence against [the Jewish] people has no place in civilized society,” and that they will “not tolerate violence against [the Jewish] community… [and] will do everything in [their] power to prevent it.”
“Our hearts are with the family of the victim,” the group wrote in a Monday night post.
“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.”
Female Palestinian activist seen LAUGHING after one member of her group KILLED a 65 year old Jewish man in Westlake, Los Angeles.
Paul Kessler died after being attacked with a megaphone by one of the protesters, leaving him with a critical brain hemorrhage.
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) November 7, 2023
Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) shared the group’s post, writing that “the explosion of antisemitism [had turned] deadly.”
“A 65-year-old(sic) Jewish man in LA was killed by a violent anti-Israel protestor(sic),” Nadler, who is Jewish, wrote.
“I strongly encourage people of goodwill, people seeking peace to separate yourselves from those glorifying & committing violence.
“Help calm the tide of hate.”
“Violent political rhetoric has consequences,” he continued.
“After a short while it incites and dehumanizes.
“And like tonight, tragically, people can be hurt or killed.
“Our country is at a crossroads and each of us bears responsibility to help bring calm.”