Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

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Active-Duty Airman Sets Himself on Fire in Protest

Airman Aaron Bushnell self-immolated in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C.
A photo of Bushnell next to a photo of him before setting himself on fire.
Newsweek
A photo of Bushnell next to a photo of him before setting himself on fire.

(Editor’s note: this article discusses an act of self-harm. The Horizon Sun recognizes the sensitivity of this topic and urges anyone dealing with this problem to seek professional help.)

Protests over the Israel-Hamas conflict have taken place in many ways, shapes, and forms since its beginning. People both in and around the region, as well as far away from the conflict, have taken it upon themselves to protest in support of Israel or Palestine. One man took the protests to a whole new level when he set himself on fire outside of the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C. in support of Palestine.

The man was identified as 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell. NPR wrote that Bushnell was a member of the United States Air Force and had been a cyber defense operations specialist with the 531st Intelligence Support Squadron. The Secret Service received calls about somebody having a medical or mental health emergency outside of the embassy, and arrived around one in the afternoon. When they arrived, they found Bushnell on fire, and promptly extinguished the blaze. Bushnell had live streamed the whole protest on Twitch. Before setting himself on fire, he said “I will no longer be complicit in genocide.” While self-immolating, Bushnell continued to shout “Free Palestine!”

According to the Washington Post, Bushnell sent messages to his friend a couple weeks before the event that talked about their shared anarchist ideals, and the risks and sacrifices needed to be successful in their goals. Nothing was mentioned about violence or self-harm. On the day of the incident, Bushnell messaged his friend saying “I hope you’ll understand. I love you. This doesn’t even make sense, but I feel like I’m going to miss you.” He also sent his friend a copy of his will, in which he received a refrigerator full of root beer.

After being extinguished, Bushnell was taken to a local hospital. Sky News reported that he later succumbed to his injuries, as stated in a report by the Air Force. Other details about the incident weren’t provided. Protests such as this one show the lengths people may go to in the effort for making change.

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