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26 Feb, 2024 22:44

US airman dies after self-immolation Gaza protest

The active-duty service member passed away after setting himself on fire outside Israel’s US embassy
US airman dies after self-immolation Gaza protest

An active-duty US Air Force member who set himself aflame on Sunday outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington to protest the “genocide” of Palestinians in Gaza by the Jewish state has died.

25-year-old airman Aaron Bushnell passed away from the injuries he suffered, Washington police confirmed on Monday.

Bushnell, from San Antonio, Texas, livestreamed his demonstration on social media. A clip of the incident posted by independent journalist Talia Jane shows him wearing fatigues, carrying a bottle of liquid, and identifying himself as he walks toward the Israeli Embassy.

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” he says. “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. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

The video then shows Bushnell proceeding to dump the liquid over his head, throw the bottle down and set himself on fire. He repeatedly screams “Free Palestine” before falling down and going silent. Police can be heard off camera yelling at him to “get on the ground.” Officers begin arriving on scene about one minute later with fire extinguishers. At least one officer is shown pointing his gun at Bushnell while others put out the fire. The airman reportedly died later on Sunday.

Both pro- and anti-Israel demonstrations have been held in major cities around the world since West Jerusalem’s war with Hamas began in October. Nearly 30,000 people have been killed in the Palestinian enclave, according to Gaza health officials. The war began when Hamas fighters launched surprise attacks against southern Israeli villages on October 7, killing nearly 1,200 people and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza.

South Africa filed a claim with the UN’s International Court of Justice accusing Israel of committing “systematic” acts of genocide in Gaza. The court, which has yet to issue a final ruling, said last month that Israel must take steps to prevent genocide and improve humanitarian conditions for Gaza’s civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the genocide allegations “outrageous” and has vowed to eliminate Hamas.