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US Air Force Man Dies After Setting Himself on Fire at Israeli Embassy

Israeli embassy in Washington, US, where a US Air Force member set himself on fire.
Israeli embassy in Washington, US, where a man of the US Air Force set himself on fire. Credit: tedeytan. CC BY 2.0/flickr

An active-duty airman of the US Air Force has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. while shouting, “Free Palestine, free Palestine!”

US Air Force Man Dies After Setting Himself on Fire at Israeli Embassy

In a video, the man, identified as 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell of San Antonio, Texas, declared that he will “no longer be complicit in genocide” before setting himself alight in full military uniform. Bushnell was on fire for about a minute before the Metropolitan Police Department extinguished it, arriving in response to the incident on International Drive at around 1 PM yesterday, Sunday, February 25th, to assist the Secret Service.

The deceased military man walked up to the embassy and began livestreaming on the video streaming platform Twitch, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press. US serviceman Bushnell then put his phone on the ground in front of the embassy and doused himself with with accelerant before drawing his lighter and setting himself on fire. The video was later removed from the video platform.

An air force spokesperson confirmed to Agence France-Presse that Bushnell was an active member but did not provide any further details. A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said no staff were injured and the man was “unknown to them.”

A Facebook post, which has been attributed to Bushnell, was shared numerous times on Twitter today, stating, “Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.” The authenticity of the post could not be immediately verified.

The police said an explosive ordinance disposal unit was called to the scene as a supposedly suspicious vehicle was present, possibly linked to the individual. No hazardous material was found, according to The Guardian.

Leading up to the Fire at the Israeli Embassy in the US

The Israeli embassy in the US has been at the center of protests by pro-Palestinian demonstrators calling for a ceasefire to the Israeli military onslaught in Gaza in which Hamas-run agencies claim the death toll is nearing 30,000. The offensive comes after cross-border attacks in Israel by Hamas on October 7th, which killed around 1,200 people and saw more than 200 people taken hostage.

According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health service, Israeli strikes have killed 29,692 Palestinians in Gaza since October, two-thirds of them women and children, and injured 69,879.

In a different incident in December last year in Atlanta, US outside the city’s Consulate General of Israel, a demonstrator also partook in an act of immolation. That individual was taken to the hospital with burns shortly afterwards.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently seeking cabinet approval for a military operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where over half of the enclave’s population is seeking refuge.

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