Active-duty airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy, Air Force confirms

Written by on February 26, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — A man identified by the Air Force as an active-duty airman was hospitalized in critical condition Sunday after authorities say he set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The incident unfolded just before 1 p.m. ET outside the gates of the Israeli Embassy in northwest Washington, according to statements from the city’s Metropolitan Police Department and Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

“We arrived to find an apparent adult male who had been on fire,” the Fire and EMS Department said in its statement.

Members of the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division extinguished the flames before fire crews arrived, officials said. Later Sunday, the U.S. Airforce confirmed the man involved was an active duty airman.

The man, whose name was not immediately released, was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries and is listed in critical condition, according to police.

It was not immediately clear why the man set himself ablaze.

Police detectives, the Secret Service Uniformed Division and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the incident.

The police department’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit was also called to the scene as police investigated a suspicious vehicle in the area that authorities believe is linked to the man. The vehicle was searched, but no hazardous material was found, police said.

The Israeli Embassy released a statement saying the man was “unknown” to embassy staff.

No embassy workers were injured in the incident, and all were reported safe, embassy officials said.

A similar incident occurred on Dec. 1 outside an Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta, where a woman wrapped in a Palestinian flag intentionally set herself on fire in an apparent political protest, according to police. The woman, who was critically injured, ignited herself after dousing herself with gasoline, police said. A security guard suffered burns when he attempted to put the fire out, according to police.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

ABC News’ Luke Barr, Sinead Hawkins and Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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