Man dies after self-immolating outside Israeli embassy in Washington

The man was an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force who accused Israel of "genocide."


Members of the US Secret Service uniformed division block access to a street leading to the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC on February 25, 2024. A man reportedly set himself on fire near the embassy on Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

(JNS) A man has died hours after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The man lit himself on fire about 1 p.m. on Sunday in front of an embassy on the 3500 block of International Drive in Northwest Washington, D.C., according to the Metropolitan Police Department, which assisted the U.S. Secret Service in responding to the incident.

The police department's explosive ordnance disposal unit was summoned to examine a "suspicious vehicle that may be connected to the individual," the department stated. It later said "The suspicious vehicle has been cleared with no hazardous materials found."

The man was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, according to the D.C. police, which is investigating the incident with Secret Service and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Israeli embassy is located at 3514 International Drive. Although the D.C. police did not identify the embassy, the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department stated that it responded at 12:58 p.m. to a "call for person on fire outside the Israeli Embassy."

When the fire department arrived, Secret Service members had already extinguished the fire, the fire department stated, and the man was transported with "critical life threatening injuries to an area hospital."

The U.S. Air Force confirmed to Fox News Digital that the man is an active-duty Airman. The man's name has been reported, but his identity has not been confirmed. 

In a statement issued on Sunday night in Jerusalem, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that diplomats did not know the man prior to the incident and that no embassy staff members were hurt.

The embassy is set back from the street and is surrounded by a large fence.

The man seemed to have filmed himself and live-streamed on the platform Twitch, according to the New York Times. He said “I will no longer be complicit in genocide” and “I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest,” in the video, per the Times.

"Standing in front of the embassy gates, he set his phone down to film dousing himself in a clear liquid from a metal bottle. He then lit himself on fire while yelling 'Free Palestine!' until he fell to the ground," the paper added.

There have been other incidents outside the embassy in Washington in recent years. Anti-Israel protesters were arrested outside the embassy in January 2022.

In 2021, a man threatened to bomb the embassy in a post on an online gaming platform. "This is not a joke or meme. I and my two hired accomplices will systematically place firebombs inside the building to cause maximum damage and set them off at 2 p.m. sharp to ensure the maximum amount of burning Jew," the man wrote.

Two years prior, police arrested a man with a knife and a bulletproof vest outside the embassy.

Last December, a man lit himself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta.

In late January, an apparent explosive device was found near the Israeli embassy in Stockholm. The object was found outside the embassy grounds and the national bomb squad was dispatched to investigate.

Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Ziv Nevo Kulman confirmed reports of the "attempted attack against the Embassy of Israel in Stockholm and its employees."

"We thank the Swedish authorities for their swift response. We will not be intimidated by terror," the ambassador said in a tweet.

On Dec. 26, Jerusalem confirmed that the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, India, was targeted by an explosive device. The explosive was set off near the diplomatic mission.

The previous month, a far-right activist was arrested in Tokyo after crashing his car into a barricade close to the entrance of the Israeli embassy. One police officer sustained minor injuries in the attack.

In mid-October, an Israeli embassy official was attacked in Beijing as Hamas called for a day of global jihad against the Jewish people.

A week later, Cypriot police arrested four Syrians after an explosive device was thrown 100 feet away from Israel's embassy in Nicosia.

Late last year, Israel's National Security Council warned that since the start of the war with Hamas, "increased efforts have been detected on the part of Iran and its proxies, as well as on the part of Hamas and elements of global jihad, to attack Israeli and Jewish targets."

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive