US Air Force member who set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in DC has died


The US Air Force member who set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, in apparent protest of the Israel-Hamas war has died, according to a US official.

Police identified the airman as Aaron Bushnell, 25, of San Antonio, Texas.

Bushnell, wearing military fatigues Filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” before falling to the ground.

In a livestream, Bushnell called the Israeli attack on Gaza “genocide” and said what it was doing was not as extreme as the suffering of the Palestinian people.

he then Put down his phone, poured liquid from a water bottle on his head and then set himself on fire.

US Air Force member sets himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington in protest against the Gaza war
Police officers outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington on February 25, 2024. Celal Gans/Anadolu via Getty Images

The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department responded to a report of a person suffering from burns outside the embassy just before 1 p.m. Sunday. But by the time firefighters arrived, Secret Service members had extinguished the fire.

bushnell He was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries where he later died, DC Fire and EMS said.

An Air Force spokesperson confirmed that Bushnell was an active-duty Air Force officer.

Bushnell, according to his LinkedIn page, was also an “aspiring software engineer” who worked for a San Antonio-based DevOps company from March 2023 until this month.

NBC contacted the company and spoke to two employees, who declined to refer a reporter to a spokesperson.

On his Facebook page, Bushnell posted a link to a “Free Palestine” channel on Twitch.TV at 10:54 a.m. Sunday, which has since been removed. Just before that he posted what appeared to be a call to action.

The post reads, “Many of us want to ask ourselves, 'What would I do if I were alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country were committing genocide?' “The answer is, you're doing it. Right now.”

Many people have since expressed condolences in the comments to the post.

Bushnell appears to have spent part of his childhood on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Nauset Public School System confirmed in a statement that he was a student in its system from 2003 to 2007 and from 2013 to 2014.

“Nousette Public Schools is saddened to learn of the untimely death of one of our former students,” the statement said in part. “We extend our condolences to his family and friends.”

The Israeli Embassy in Washington said that none of its employees were injured.

Bushnell's death comes as the Israel-Hamas war reaches its fourth month.

In December, a woman set herself on fire outside the Israeli Consulate building in Atlanta. A Palestinian flag was recovered from the scene and police described the incident as an “extreme political protest”.

There have been worldwide protests against Israel since Hamas launched an attack on Gaza on October 7 in response to a surprise attack that killed nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Hamas also took 240 people hostage.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, about 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the Israeli military has presented the War Cabinet with a plan to evacuate civilians from “fighting areas” in Gaza.

Netanyahu has also repeatedly warned of a possible ground attack against Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, where 1 million Palestinians have sought protection.

International leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have urged Netanyahu not to launch a full-scale Israeli attack on Rafah. He said Palestinian civilians would be in direct line of fire and any attack on Rafah would disrupt the flow of desperately needed humanitarian aid into Gaza.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 or live chat to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988lifeline.org, you can also visit speakingofsuicide.com/resources For additional assistance.




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