US soldier's fiery protest against Gaza 'genocide' ends with his death

Aaron Bushnell.

An active-duty member of the US Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, while declaring that he "will no longer be complicit in genocide." Pentagon extended condolences to the airman's family and called the incident "tragic."

The 25-year-old airman, Aaron Bushnell, of San Antonio, Texas, died from his injuries, the Metropolitan Police Department said on Monday.

Bushnell had walked up to the embassy shortly before 1 pm on Sunday and began livestreaming on the video streaming platform Twitch, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

Law enforcement officials believe the man started a livestream, set his phone down and then doused himself in accelerant and ignited the flames.

At one point, he said he "will no longer be complicit in genocide." The video was later removed from the platform, but law enforcement officials have obtained and reviewed a copy.

Bushnell also shouted "Free Palestine" as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media.

In a statement Monday, the Air Force said, "The individual involved in yesterday’s incident succumbed to his injuries and passed away last night." The Air Force said it would provide additional information a day after military officials complete notifying his next of kin.

The deadly self-immolation of the airman was "very tragic," the Pentagon said on Monday.

"It certainly is a tragic event. We do extend our condolences to the airman's family," Pentagon spokesperson Major General Patrick Ryder told reporters.

The incident happened as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking the cabinet approval for a military invasion in the southern Gaza city of Rafah while a temporary ceasefire deal is being negotiated.

Israel's military invasion in Gaza, however, has drawn criticisms, including genocide claims.

In December, a person self-immolated outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta and used gasoline as an accelerant, according to Atlanta's fire authorities. A Palestinian flag was found at the scene, and the act was believed to be one of "extreme political protest."

The deadly self-immolation of a US airman outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, over the weekend was "very tragic," the Pentagon has said.

"It certainly is a tragic event. We do extend our condolences to the airman's family," Pentagon spokesperson Major General Patrick Ryder told reporters on Monday.

The shocking act was an escalation of ongoing protests across the United States against Israel's carnage in the blockaded enclave.

Domestic, international pressure

With the death toll in Gaza nearing 30,000, international pressure has been increasing on the United States to rein in its ally Israel and call for a ceasefire.

Washington, which has armed Israel to the teeth, last week blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, its third such use of its veto on the matter.

Some voters in Joe Biden's Democratic Party are attempting to press the president on the issue, with groups of Arab American voters in Michigan pledging to vote "uncommitted" or write in "Free Palestine" on their ballots in the state's primary on Tuesday.

The White House has tried to assuage Arab and Muslim voters' concerns in part by portraying the president as frustrated with Benjamin Netanyahu's regime.

But US weapons have uninterruptedly flowed to Israel since October 7, while Washington's efforts to broker a second pause in fighting have so far failed.

In an update on ongoing multinational talks on Sunday, the United States said an "understanding" had emerged on a possible deal for Hamas to release captives and for a new ceasefire.


Source: TRT