Saturday, April 13, 2024

Uniformed man sets himself on fire at gates of Washington’s Israeli embassy – The Washington Post

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A man is in critical condition after setting himself on fire midday Sunday in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, authorities said.

No one else was injured in the incident, which took place shortly before 1 p.m. in the 3500 block of International Drive NW. A video shared online, which several officials said appears to have been posted by the man, shows him shouting “Free Palestine” as it burned.

The man said he was an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force. An Air Force spokeswoman, Ann Stefanek, said she had not yet identified the man or verified whether he was in the service.

Since the start of the war between Israel and Gaza just over four months ago, at least 29,629 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel estimates that around 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas attack on October 7 and says 240 soldiers have been killed since its military operation in Gaza began.

Hamas and its allied fighters took more than 253 people hostage during the attack. More than 100 people were released in exchange for more than 200 Palestinian detainees during a pause in fighting in November. Israeli authorities estimate that there are more than 100 hostages remaining in Gaza.

On Sunday, uniformed Secret Service agents responded to a report of a person experiencing a possible medical or mental health emergency, said Joe Routh, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service.

Responding officers extinguished the fire before the Washington, D.C., fire department arrived around 1 p.m., fire department spokesman Vito Maggiolo said. DC Fire and Emergency later took the man to the hospital in life-threatening condition. He remained hospitalized Sunday afternoon.

In the video, which lasts just over three minutes, one person can be heard saying: “Hello sir, can I help you?” as the man approaches the embassy door.

About 12 seconds later, as a person again asks, “Can I help you, sir,” the man lights the fire.

The man burned for about a minute and collapsed to the ground, the video shows, before law enforcement began putting out the fire.

Authorities said Sunday afternoon that they were continuing their investigation.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit 988lifeline.org or call or text Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to 988.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Kyle Rempfer contributed to this report.

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