Man sets himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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Photo for illustration purpose only.

26th February 2024 – (Washington) On Sunday afternoon outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., a man set himself on fire in an act of protest. The Metropolitan Police Department confirmed the incident, while a U.S. Air Force spokeswoman, Ann Stefanek, later revealed that the man was an active-duty airman.

Officers from the U.S. Secret Service swiftly moved to extinguish the flames that engulfed the man outside the embassy, located in northwestern Washington. The city’s fire department spokesman, Vito Maggiolo, reported that the incident occurred around 1 p.m. The man, suffering life-threatening injuries, was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital and remains in critical condition.

Fortunately, no embassy staff members were harmed during the incident, and all were confirmed to be safe, according to Tal Naim, a spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy.

The man appeared to have recorded the protest and live-streamed it on the social media platform Twitch at the time when law enforcement responded to the scene. The origin of the account that posted the video remains unverified. However, the footage depicted a man walking towards the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

In the video, the man expressed his opposition to Israel’s military actions in Gaza, using language commonly used by critics to describe the campaign as genocide. “I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” he stated, before dousing himself in a clear liquid from a metal bottle. He then proceeded to ignite himself while shouting “Free Palestine!” until he collapsed to the ground.

Law enforcement officers could be seen approaching the man moments before the fire engulfed him. Off-camera, one officer was heard asking, “Can I help you, sir?” The officers then frantically worked for over a minute to extinguish the flames.

The video was later removed from Twitch and replaced with a message stating that it violated the platform’s guidelines. It was the only video posted on the account, which prominently featured a Palestinian flag as its header image.

The man seen in the video was dressed in military fatigues, and the name he used matched an active-duty Air Force officer based in Texas according to his LinkedIn profile. However, authorities have not yet confirmed his identity.

Following the incident, the police also investigated a suspicious vehicle nearby for potential explosives. However, by 4 p.m., the scene was cleared, and authorities confirmed that there was no imminent threat. The Secret Service, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, collaborated with Washington’s explosive ordnance disposal unit during the investigation.

Protests against Israel have become a frequent occurrence across the United States, particularly since the start of Israel’s campaign in Gaza after the 7th October. Hamas attacks, which claimed the lives of over 1,200 people according to Israeli officials. Calls for a humanitarian cease-fire have grown louder as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to deepen. The Israeli embassy has witnessed sustained protests against the war, as the death toll among civilians in the devastated enclave exceeds 29,000, as reported by local health ministry officials.