A 69-year-old Jewish man named Paul Kessler died from blunt force trauma to the head on Sunday, 5 November in Thousand Oaks, California. He was attending a pro-Israel rally, in support of the Jewish state after the horrific series of attacks against it by the Hamas terrorist group, when a group of pro-Palestine counter-protesters showed up. Around 100 people were present at the event across the two sides.
Evidently, a confrontation between the two groups ensued, during which Mr Kessler fell backwards to the ground and hit his head. Multiple reports of an incident of battery were called in to authorities at the spot where Mr Kessler fell down. The medical examiner ruled the cause of death to be homicide, and also concluded that he had sustained non-lethal injuries consistent with a blow to the face, before taking the fall that caused deadly head trauma.
However, so far, no arrests have been made.
A suspect has been identified, who has since been questioned by police and then released. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office has received conflicting eyewitness testimonies from the opposing sides about who the initial aggressor was, Sheriff Fryhoff informed the public at a press conference.
‘What exactly transpired prior to Mr Kessler falling backwards isn’t crystal clear right now. We’re working tirelessly to gather all the facts and evidence related to this incident. We will do everything in our power, using every resource we have at our disposal, to make sense of the incident, and if criminal wrongdoing is discovered, to bring the person or persons responsible to justice,’ the Sheriff went on to say, as quoted by a news article published on The Los Angeles Times’ website.
Based on the facts of the case reported so far, the suspect will either be charged with voluntary manslaughter, as he most likely did not intend to kill or use deadly force, or be not charged or acquitted on the grounds of justified self-defence. In case a criminal charge is brought,
the Sheriff’s Office claimed they are not ruling out treating it as a hate crime,
which would increase the sentence for the alleged perpetrator.
On that note, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles also released a public statement about the incident, writing: ‘We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it’. Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League called on law enforcement ‘to launch a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible’.
While we cannot make any definite determination about who the aggressor was in this specific incident,
it is undeniable that the pro-Palestine, typically left-wing side has been fairly aggressive at demonstrations in general,
while the pro-Israel rallies always remained peaceful, with no chanting of hateful slogans.
Pro-Palestinian individuals have been seen tearing down posters of Israeli civilians taken hostage by Hamas, and they have been often chanting ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine must be free,’ which insinuates the state of Israel should not exist at all (as in, Palestine should control the territory between the Jordan Riven and the Mediterranean Sea), and they have been recorded burning Israeli flags as well.