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US air man shouts 'Free Palestine' as he sets himself on fire outside Israel embassy

Aaron Bushnell died from his injuries after live streaming an 'extreme act of protest' in Washington
Members of the US Secret Service uniformed division block access to a street leading to the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC on 25 February 2024 (Mandel Ngan/AFP)
Members of the US Secret Service block access to a street leading to the Israeli embassy in Washington on 25 February (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

A US Air Force member has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington on Sunday, in protest against Israel's war on Gaza

The man, identified by US media as Aaron Bushnell, was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries but later succumbed to his wounds.

An official at Washington's Metropolitan Police Department confirmed to Middle East Eye that the 25-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, had died.

In a video that he live streamed on Twitch, Bushnell is seen walking down the street, stating: "I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonisers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal."

He then placed his phone down to film outside the driveway of the Israeli embassy in the US capital and proceeded to pour liquid on himself.

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He later pulled out a lighter and set himself on fire, while repeatedly stating, "Free Palestine". 

"At 12:58 PM @dcfireems responded to call for person on fire outside the Israeli Embassy," Washington's fire emergency service wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday.

It added: "Arrived to find fire extinguished by members of @SecretService Uniformed Division. 1 adult male transported critical life threatening injuries to an area hospital."

In the video, a law enforcement officer can be heard asking, "Can I help you sir?" before scrambling to put out the flames. 

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The video was taken down by Twitch shortly after it was uploaded for violating the live-streaming platform's guidelines. 

A US Air Force spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that the man involved in the incident was an active duty air man. He was dressed in military fatigues during the incident. 

Police, secret service and other authorities are investigating the incident. 

In December, a protester self-immolated outside an Israeli consulate building in Atlanta, in what US police described as "likely an extreme act of political protest". The protester sustained third-degree burns to the body. 

At least 29,782 Palestinians have been killed and 70,043 wounded by Israel's war on Gaza. 

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