Air Force member dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy

Last updated on February 26, 2024

An Air Force member who set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington in an act of protest against the war in Gaza on Sunday died from his injuries, an Air Force spokesperson said Monday.

“The individual involved in yesterday’s incident succumbed to his injuries and passed away last night. We will provide additional details 24 hours after next of kin notifications are complete,” Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek told POLITICO.

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” the Air Force member said in a video posted on social media before the protest. “I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers is not extreme at all.”

He continued: “This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

The service member, wearing camouflage, can then be seen pouring a flammable substance on himself before lighting himself on fire, repeatedly yelling, “Free Palestine” before on-site personnel ran toward him with fire extinguishers.

The service member’s actions come as members of the Biden administration have
expressed their

frustration with how
the U.S. has handled its response to Israel’s military operation in Gaza. The White House has remained supportive of Israel throughout the war, while calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do more to protect civilians from harm.

“I cannot stay silent as this administration turns a blind eye to the atrocities,” a senior administration official
wrote in a resignation letter
in January.

Nearly 30,000 people have died in Gaza since Israel began its operation in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. The figures do not distinguish between militants and civilians.

Negotiators are working to finalize a deal that would see a temporary ceasefire and hostage exchange, even as Israel threatens a full-on invasion of the southern city of Rafah. The pause in fighting could include the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts around March 10, and would allow for an increase of desperately needed humanitarian aid to the strip.

More than 1 million people are sheltering in Rafah after being forced to flee the more northern parts of Gaza during Israel’s campaign. Netanyahu has said a temporary ceasefire would delay but not halt the country’s plans for an invasion in order to root out the remnants of Hamas.

Still, Netanyahu’s plans to attack Rafah have prompted widespread international calls for restraint amid the humanitarian crisis. Israeli officials are working on a plan to protect the innocent civilians there, but have not yet submitted a proposal to the White House, according to a U.S. official, who was granted anonymity to speak about sensitive discussions.