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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man in uniform sets himself on fire at gates to D.C.’s Israeli Embassy

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 8: The Israeli flag is seen through the trees at the Israeli embassy on October 8, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Palestinian militant group Hamas on Saturday launched a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza by land, sea, and air, killing hundreds of people and wounding thousands more. Israeli soldiers and civilians have also been kidnapped by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to published reports. The attack prompted a declaration of war by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ongoing retaliatory strikes by Israel on Gaza killing hundreds. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)  (Samuel Corum)
By Emily Davies Washington Post

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

No one else was injured in the incident, which took place just before 1 p.m. in the 3500 block of International Drive NW. A video shared online, which multiple officials said appeared to be posted by the man, shows him shouting “Free Palestine” as he burned.

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

Since the Israel-Gaza war began 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 about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack and says 240 soldiers have been killed since the start of its military operation in Gaza. Hamas and allied fighters took more than 253 people hostage. More than 100 were freed in exchange for more than 200 Palestinian detainees during a November pause in fighting. Israeli authorities believe that more than 100 hostages remain in Gaza.

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

Responding officers put out the fire before D.C. firefighters arrived, around 1 p.m., fire department spokesman Vito Maggiolo said. The D.C. Fire and Emergency Services department then took the man to a hospital in life-threatening condition.

He remained hospitalized Sunday afternoon.

In the video, which is just over three minutes long, one person can be heard saying, “Hi sir, can I help you?” as the man approaches the gate to the embassy.

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 on the ground, the video showed, before law enforcement began to extinguish the fire.

Authorities on Sunday afternoon said they were still investigating.

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If you or someone you know needs help, visit or call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.

Kyle Rempfer contributed to this report.