Aaron Bushnell, US Airman, sets himself on fire at Israeli embassy

A 25-year-old US Airman Aaron Bushnell, protesting against Israel’s war in Gaza, set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington DC on Sunday.

The dramatic event transpired at 13:00 local time, witnessed by onlookers and captured in a live video streamed on online platform Twitch.

Dressed in military uniform, Aaron Bushnell, in his final moments, protested against the Israel-Palestine war in Gaza. A security officer kept a gun fixed on Mr Bushnell throughout the incident, as he was burnt alive.

Conflicting reports on social media say that the security officer was either a US police officer or an Israeli embassy guard. Embassy staff members emerged unharmed,

The Pentagon labeled the event as a ‘tragic event.’

Bomb disposal units were sent to the embassy due to concerns about a suspicious vehicle at the scene.

The circumstances surrounding Aaron Bushnell’s actions, as well as any potential connections to wider groups or motives, are being investigated by authorities including Washington police, the Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Aaron Bushnell, originally from San Antonio, Texas, had military ties, as reported by Stars and Stripes, a military newspaper, which indicated that he held the rank of senior airman.

*warning: graphic visuals

Israel-Gaza war continues to dominate global headlines

The Israel-Gaza war, which erupted on October 7 last year, when Hamas gunmen infiltrated southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 others hostage continues to draw international attention and criticism.

Israel responded by launching a serious military offensive in Gaza, during which 29,300 people have been killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

As of mid-January, 1.9 million civilians in Gaza have been displaced amid Israel’s military operations, according to the UN, accounting for 85% of its population.

In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the offensive in the face of international criticism, saying America would be ‘doing a hell of a lot more’ if it had suffered such an attack.

It is not the first time someone has taken such a drastic step in protest in front of a  diplomatic mission in the US.

In December, a protester self-immolated in front of the Israeli consulate in the US state of Georgia. A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, police said.

Aaron Bushnell