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US. Air Force member sets self ablaze outside Israeli embassy

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An active-duty U.S. Air Force member is currently in critical condition after he ignited himself outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, in an apparent protest against the ongoing conflict in Gaza, according to officials.

The incident occurred around 1 p.m. ET, prompting responses from both the U.S. Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. While the embassy reported no injuries among its staff, authorities investigated a “suspicious vehicle” possibly linked to the individual involved. The vehicle was later cleared around 4 p.m.

In a livestreamed video on Twitch, the man, who identified himself as an active duty airman, expressed his intention to protest against what he referred to as “genocide” before immolating himself. He repeated the phrase “free Palestine” after setting himself ablaze. The man’s identity remains undisclosed, and his claims have not been independently verified by CBS News.

This incident marks the second self-immolation protest outside an Israeli facility in the U.S. since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Last December, a protester similarly set themselves on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta. The political nature of these acts underscores the heightened tensions surrounding the ongoing conflict, which has resulted in significant casualties in Gaza.

The event coincides with recent diplomatic developments, including the United States’ veto of a U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. While President Biden has expressed concerns over Israel’s tactics and urged restraint, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended his military’s actions, signaling a potential escalation in the conflict.

The international community has been divided over the situation, with accusations of genocide leveled against Israel. South Africa’s case before the International Court of Justice underscores the gravity of the allegations, despite Netanyahu’s vehement denial of such claims. The court’s decision to consider the case reflects the complexity and severity of the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

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