Man sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington, police say

Man sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington, police say

A man set himself on fire Sunday afternoon in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, according to the Metropolitan Police.

U.S. Secret Service agents put out the fire outside the embassy in northwest Washington around 1 p.m., said Vito Maggiolo, a spokesman for the city’s fire department. The man was transported to a nearby hospital. His life is in danger and he remains in critical condition.

No embassy staff were injured and all have been accounted for, according to Tal Naim, an embassy spokesperson.

The man appears to have filmed the protest and livestreamed it on the social media platform Twitch at the time police say they responded to the incident. The New York Times could not confirm who was behind the account that posted the video, but the video showed a man walking toward the Israeli embassy in Washington.

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” one man said in the video, echoing language used by opponents of Israeli military action in Gaza to describe the campaign. “I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest.”

Standing outside the embassy gates, he put down his phone to film himself dousing himself with a clear liquid from a metal bottle. He then set himself on fire, shouting “Free Palestine!” » until he fell to the ground.

The video showed law enforcement officers approaching him shortly before the fire started. He could be heard off camera saying, “Can I help you, sir?” The police then rushed for more than a minute to put out the flames.

The video was removed on Sunday afternoon and replaced with a message stating that the channel was violating Twitch’s guidelines. This was the only video posted to the account, which had a Palestinian flag as the header image.

In the video, the man was dressed in fatigues and identified himself as an active duty U.S. Air Force officer. The name he used in the video matches the LinkedIn profile of an active-duty Air Force officer based in Texas. Authorities have not confirmed the man’s identity and the Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Police also investigated a nearby suspicious vehicle for explosives, but Sean Hickman, a police spokesman, said the scene was cleared by 4 p.m. Agents from the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had worked with Washington’s explosive ordnance. disposal unit to investigate the incident.

Protests against Israel have become a near-daily phenomenon across the country since Israel began its campaign in Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks that killed at least 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. International calls for a humanitarian ceasefire have increased in recent months as the humanitarian crisis has worsened. The embassy has been the scene of sustained protests against the war in Gaza as the civilian death toll in the devastated enclave continues to climb, with more than 29,000 dead, according to local health ministry officials.

Protests have sometimes resulted in arrests but rarely in violence. In December, a protester set himself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, which police said was “likely an extreme act of political protest.”

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Eric D. Eilerman

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