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Graphic Video: US Airman dies after setting himself on fire in anti-Israel protest

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers' boots. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)
February 26, 2024

A United States Air Force member died after igniting himself on fire outside of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Sunday in protest of the war between Israel and Hamas. The Airman claimed Israel was committing “genocide” in the Middle East.

According to Fox News, Washington, D.C., police officials confirmed Monday that Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old U.S. Airman, died after setting himself on fire outside of the Israeli Embassy. Ann Stefanek, a U.S. Air Force spokesperson, told Fox News, “I can confirm an active duty Airman involved in today’s incident.”

Bushnell’s LinkedIn page shows the Airman was hoping to “transition out of the US Air Force” to pursue software engineering. A friend of Bushnell told SNB13 that the U.S. Airman spent a considerable amount of time “living his anarchist principles in action.”

Bushnell’s act of protest against the United States’ support of Israel’s war against Hamas was live-streamed Sunday on Twitch under the username LillyAnarKitty, according to The Post Millennial. While the original video has since been removed, a video of Bushnell’s protest was posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The video shows Bushnell walking to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Prior to setting himself on fire, the U.S. Airman said, “My name is Aaron Bushnell. I am an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force, and I will no longer be complicit in genocide. 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 colonizers, it’s not extreme at all.”

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After explaining the reasoning behind his “extreme act of protest,” Bushnell can be seen lighting himself on fire and shouting, “Free Palestine,” before screaming in pain and falling to the ground. Multiple Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers attempted to suppress the flames to rescue Bushnell; however, the U.S. Airman later died from his injuries after being transported to a local hospital.

Following Sunday’s incident in front of the Israeli Embassy, a Secret Service spokesman told The Daily Mail, “The US Secret Service, Uniformed Division responded to the 3400 Block of International Drive, NW, DC regarding an individual that was experiencing a possible medical / mental health emergency.”

The Daily Mail also reported that the Metropolitan Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team responded to the incident Sunday after receiving a report of a suspicious vehicle potentially linked to Bushnell.

According to The Daily Mail, the Israeli Embassy released a statement Sunday explaining that none of the embassy’s staff members were injured in Sunday’s incident.

“On Sunday, 2/25, at around 1 PM, a man set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington and was taken to the hospital by ambulance,” the embassy stated. “The man is unknown. No Embassy staff were injured and are safe.”