US airman dies after setting self on fire outside Israeli embassy

US airman dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli embassy

/ 10:38 AM February 27, 2024

US airman dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli embassy

People participate in a vigil for U.S. Air Force active-duty airman Aaron Bushnell outside the Israeli Embassy on February 26, 2024 in Washington, DC. Bushnell died after setting himself on fire while live streaming, according to published reports, in front of the Israeli Embassy in protest over the Gaza war. AFP

WASHINGTON — A US Air Force airman who set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington in an apparent act of protest against the war in Gaza has died, the military and local police said on Monday.

Senior Airman Aaron Bushnell, 25, a cyber defense operations specialist with the 531st Intelligence Support Squadron, died from injuries sustained in the incident, the Air Force said in a statement.


“When a tragedy like this occurs, every member of the Air Force feels it,” U.S. Air Force Colonel Celina Noyes said in the statement. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Senior Airman Bushnell. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we ask that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.”


READ: Gaza war: Fierce fighting between Israel, Hamas continues as efforts for truce gains pace

Officer Lee Lepe, a spokesperson for the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, confirmed the death.

The Pentagon said the death was a “tragic event” and that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was following the situation.

Bushnell was initially hospitalized in critical condition after U.S. Secret Service officers put out the flames on Sunday, D.C. Fire and EMS said earlier. Bushnell, wearing military fatigues, broadcast the incident live over the internet.

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” the man said before dousing himself in a clear liquid and setting himself on fire, screaming “Free Palestine,” according to a video seen by Reuters.

READ: Explainer: What’s the Israel-Palestinian conflict about and how did it start?


“We express our heartfelt condolences and full solidarity with the family and friends of the American pilot Aaron Bushnell, who immortalized his name as a defender of human values and the plight of the Palestinian people, who are oppressed by the American administration and its unjust policies,” Hamas said in a post on Telegram Messenger.

The incident comes amid ongoing pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protests in the United States following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas that killed 1,200 Israelis and seized 253 hostages in a cross-border attack.

Israeli forces then launched a military campaign against the Palestinian Islamist group that rules Gaza, destroying much of the coastal enclave, with nearly 30,000 people confirmed killed, according to Palestinian health officials.

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Israel’s embassies have drawn continued protest against the war. In December, a woman protesting the war set herself on fire outside the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta.

TAGS: Gaza, Israel-Hamas war, USA

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