US airman dies after setting himself on fire in protest outside Israeli embassy

Key Points
  • The man declared he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid.
  • He died of “critical life-threatening injuries” on Sunday night.
  • Israeli embassy in Washington DC said no staff were injured.
A US airman has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington at the weekend in protest over the war in Gaza, the Air Force said Monday.
The shocking act was an escalation of recent protests across the United States against Israel’s actions in Gaza, where with US support it is .

Emergency responders on Sunday had rushed to the scene in response to a “call for person on fire outside the Israeli Embassy”, the capital city’s fire department said.

The unnamed man had filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media.

He was taken to hospital with “critical life-threatening injuries,” the fire department said, and an Air Force spokeswoman said on Monday morning he had died on Sunday night.

US Secret Service vehicles block access to a street leading to the Embassy of Israel in Washington DC. Source: AFP / Mandel Ngan

A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said no staff were injured.

In the video, the man wearing military fatigues and declaring he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid, lighting himself on fire and yelling “Free Palestine!” until he collapses.

The video was reportedly first shared in a livestream on the social platform Twitch.

Domestic and international pressure on the US

With the death toll in Gaza nearing 30,000, according to Gaza’s health ministry, international pressure has been increasing on the United States to rein in ally Israel and call for a ceasefire.
The war broke out after Hamas launched an unprecedented 7 October attack that killed 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians.
Militants also took about , including 31 presumed dead, according to Israel.
Washington last week blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,
Some voters in Joe Biden’s Democratic Party are seeking to press the president on the issue, with groups of Arab American voters in Michigan pledging to vote “uncommitted” or write in “Free Palestine” on their ballots in the state’s primary Tuesday.

The White House has tried to ease Arab and Muslim voters’ concerns in part by portraying the president as frustrated with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

But US weapons have flowed to Israel since 7 October, while Washington’s efforts to .
In an update on ongoing multinational talks on Sunday, the US said an “understanding” had emerged on a possible deal for Hamas to release hostages and for a new ceasefire in the Gaza war.

Domestic demonstrations have typically involved peaceful street protests, though in December a person outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta also set themselves on fire.

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