US airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy in Washington

An active-duty member of the US Air Force set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, on Sunday, according to the Air Force and local authorities.

“The Metropolitan Police Department responded to the 3500 block of International Drive, NW, at approximately 1:00 p.m., to assist the United States Secret Service after an individual set themselves on fire in front of an embassy in the block,” the Washington Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement to CNN.

In a video of the incident, obtained and reviewed by CNN, the man identifies himself as Aaron Bushnell and says, “I will no longer be complicit in genocide” before going on to say that what he’s about to do is minimal compared with the suffering of Palestinians.

He then sets the recording device on the ground before pouring an unknown liquid over himself and igniting it while yelling “Free Palestine” repeatedly. He eventually collapses as police officers rush to douse the flames with fire extinguishers.

Rose Riley, a spokesperson for the US Air Force, told CNN, “I can confirm an active duty Airman was involved in today’s incident.”

The man was transported by DC Fire and EMS to a local hospital and remains in critical condition, MPD said.

A spokesperson from the Israeli Embassy said, “no embassy staff were injured and are safe.”

By the time firefighters were dispatched to the scene, the fire had already been extinguished by the US Secret Service, according to Vito Maggiolo, a public information officer from DC Fire.

MPD said it is working with the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate the incident.

In December, a person set themselves on fire outside the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta in what police said was “likely an extreme act of political protest.” A Palestinian flag that was part of the protest was recovered at the scene, and gasoline was used as an accelerant, police and fire officials told reporters at a news conference.

Israel is waging war against Hamas in Gaza, after the group’s October 7 terror attacks that killed 1,200 people in Israel, according to Israeli authorities. The response has killed nearly 30,000 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Natasha Bertrand, Rafael Romo, Jaide Timm-Garcia and Shawn Nottingham contributed to this report.

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