• Sun. May 19th, 2024

A Man Who Self-Immolated in Front of the Israeli Embassy: What We Know

A horrific and ultimately deadly protest against the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza was staged by a 25-year-old Air Force service member, Aaron Bushnell, on Sunday afternoon outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. He set up a livestream by placing his phone on the ground and then lit himself on fire while shouting “Free Palestine” before the embassy gates. He died from his wounds on Sunday night. This is what we know about him and his act.

Background of Aaron Bushnell

Originally from Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Bushnell was a 25-year-old member of the U.S. Air Force stationed in San Antonio. He had joined the Air Force as an active-duty member in May 2020 and worked in information technology and development operations since then. He wrote on his LinkedIn page that he was looking to “transition out of the US Air Force into software engineering.”

The Self-Immolation at the Embassy

Bushnell posted a Twitch link on his Facebook page with the caption, hours before lighting himself on fire:

Many of us like to ask ourselves, “What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?”

Aaron Bushnell in flames shouting”Free Palestine” photo: Twitter

The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.

He walked toward the Israeli Embassy with an insulated water bottle full of flammable fluid and began his livestream shortly before 1 p.m. on Sunday. He said in his video, “I will no longer be complicit in genocide. 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, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

He doused himself in liquid from the bottle after placing his phone on the ground and walking to the gates of the embassy. He struggled to light himself and said, “Free Palestine.” A law-enforcement officer asked, “Can I help you, sir?” as he approached. Bushnell lit himself on fire at this point, screaming, “Free Palestine.”

He screamed in pain as a law-enforcement officer off-camera yelled at him to “get on the ground.” A second officer yelled at the first: “I don’t need guns, I need fire extinguishers.” The fire had been put out by the time D.C. Fire and EMS arrived on the scene.

The Aftermath and Bushnell’s Death

A distress call regarding an individual exhibiting signs of mental distress outside the Israeli embassy was received by a Secret Service agent, according to an incident report filed by them. (The Secret Service is responsible for foreign-embassy security.) The Secret Service officers could not engage before [Bushnell] set himself on fire by dousing himself with an unidentified liquid. The flames were promptly extinguished by the Secret Service officers before the arrival of the fire department. [Bushnell] was transported to a local hospital due to the burns sustained from the incident. He was pronounced dead at 10:06 p.m. on Sunday, according to the report.

Several left-leaning websites were alerted to his “highly disturbing” final act by Bushnell in the hours before his death. “Today, I am planning to engage in an extreme act of protest against the genocide of the Palestinian people,” read the email, which was forwarded to the BBC.

His video was taken down by Twitch for violating its terms of service, though edited versions blurring out his burning figure are circulating on social media. The incident is being investigated by the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along with the Metropolitan Police Department. He stated that he was “planning to engage in an extreme act of protest” in an email to several left-leaning websites prior to his death.


“We in the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) express our deepest condolences and our full solidarity with the family and friends of the American pilot Aaron Bushnell, whose name has been immortalized as a defender of human values and the oppression of the Palestinian people who are suffering because of the American administration and its unjust policies, as well as the American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by a Zionist bulldozer in Rafah in In 2003, it is the same city that Bushnell paid with his life for putting pressure on his country’s government to prevent the criminal Zionist army from attacking it and committing massacres and violations there.

The administration of US President Biden bears full responsibility for the death of US Army pilot Aaron Bushnell due to its policy that supported the Nazi Zionist entity in its war of extermination against our Palestinian people, as he gave his life in order to shed light on the Zionist massacres and ethnic cleansing against our people in the Gaza Strip.

The heroic pilot, Aaron Bushnell, will remain immortal in the memory of our Palestinian people and the free people of the world, and a symbol of the spirit of global human solidarity with our people and their just cause.

The tragic accident that cost Pilot Bushnell his life is an expression of the growing state of anger among the American people who reject their country’s policy that contributes to the killing and extermination of our people, and who reject their government’s violation of universal human values, by providing cover to ensure the impunity of the entity and its Nazi leaders from punishment and accountability.”


Mbiydze is a web and graphic designer, digital marketer, and founder of a group of companies including CHEETAH CAMEROON, MBIYDZELA DIGITAL and PULSEBEAT ENTERTAINMENT  He is an ambitious entrepreneur with experience in various fields.
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