Advertisement

Air Force member in critical condition after setting himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force is in critical condition after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington on Sunday, according to authorities.

The Metropolitan Police Department said officers responded to the scene to assist the U.S. Secret Service "after an individual set themselves on fire in front of an embassy in the block." The man was transported to an area hospital with critical, life-threatening injuries.

The Washington Fire and Emergency Medical Services also responded to the embassy call and the fire was extinguished by the time Fire and EMS personnel reached the embassy at approximately 1 p.m., public information officer Vito Maggiolo said.

Police said they are working with the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate the incident. The police department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal was also called to the area to investigate a suspicious vehicle nearby. Police later cleared the vehicle "with no hazardous materials found."

Local and federal officials declined to say whether the incident was a form of protest. Authorities have not released the man's identity but the Associated Press reported that he is an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force.

A video posted on the video streaming and social media platform Twitch appeared to show the man in a uniform shouting "Free Palestine" while he was engulfed in flames, the Washington Post and New York Times reported.

A person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity said law enforcement officials believe the man walked up to the embassy shortly before 1 p.m. and began live-streaming. After setting his phone down, he doused himself in accelerant and ignited the flames.

At one point, the man said he “will no longer be complicit in genocide,” the person told the AP. The video was later removed, with the platform saying the channel violated its guidelines.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the man was not known to the embassy staff, the Times of Israel reported.

They support Palestinians in Gaza. But what do Yemen's Houthi rebels really want?

Widespread protests amid Israel-Hamas war

Protests have been widespread amid rising tensions across the country since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7. Hamas' attacks killed at least 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. Israel's ongoing military operation has killed more than 29,000 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

International calls for a cease-fire in Gaza have increased in recent months as the humanitarian crisis in the small Palestinian territory worsens. Demonstrations in the United States have occurred almost daily, from small communities to thousands of people marching in the nation's capital.

Sunday's incident appears to be the second instance of self-immolation in response to the war. In December, a person was in critical condition after lighting themself on fire in an "act of extreme political protest" outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, authorities said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US service member set himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in DC