US officer fires shot in clash at pro-Israel rally

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A federal officer fired his weapon once at men in a truck as they fled a pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles after using wooden poles bearing Palestinian flags to hit protesters, authorities said Monday.

The incident, which resulted in four arrests and no injuries, occurred at the rally on Sunday outside the Federal Building in Westwood.

The rally was held as Israel continued an offensive against Hamas that had killed 160 people and forced thousands of Palestinian residents to flee their homes.

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have launched more than 800 rockets at Israel.

The pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles attracted as many as 1,800 people, including some pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Several were in a truck with a Palestinian flag when a pro-Israel demonstrator grabbed the flag and stepped on it, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Valentine said.

The men in the truck confronted the demonstrators and struck multiple people with their flagpoles, Valentine said.

An officer who typically provides security for federal buildings tried to stop the four men from attempting to flee and fired a shot from his service weapon, Federal Protective Service spokeswoman Jacqueline Yost said in a statement.

The name of the officer was not released.

Yost had no further details on what the officer was aiming at or what steps were taken before the weapon was discharged.

An ambulance was called for a woman who was injured after apparently being hit by the men, Yost said. Los Angeles fire spokesman Erik Scott said no one was transported to a hospital.

Police later caught up with the truck, and four men were arrested and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Valentine said.

The men, 19-year-old Mostadafa Gamaleldin Hafez, 41-year-old Hassan Mustapha Kreidieh, 35-year-old Mohammed Said Elkhatib and 38-year-old Fadi Ali Obeidallah, all posted $30,000 bail Monday.

Efforts by The Associated Press to reach the men were not immediately successful.

Elkhatib told reporters outside of the station Monday that they were "falsely arrested" and demanded authorities investigate the federal agent who fired his weapon, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"We did not assault nobody," Elkhatib said. "You guys have surveillance and cameras, and that will tell us the truth."

Agency policy calls for the officer who fired the shot to be placed on paid administrative leave pending the completion of an investigation by the Federal Protective Service.

The Sheriff's Department is conducting its own investigation of the incident with assistance from the FBI, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

The pro-Israel rally followed a pro-Palestinian rally on Saturday.

___

Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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