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U.S. Air Force member sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy

In this image taken from video, police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, after an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force was critically injured after setting himself ablaze outside the diplomatic compound. (WJLA via AP) In this image taken from video, police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, after an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force was critically injured after setting himself ablaze outside the diplomatic compound. (WJLA via AP)
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WASHINGTON -

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force was critically injured Sunday after setting himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C., while declaring that he "will no longer be complicit in genocide," a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

The man, whose name wasn't immediately released, walked up to the embassy shortly before 1 p.m. and began livestreaming on the video streaming platform Twitch, the person said.

Law enforcement officials believe the man started a livestream, set his phone down and then doused himself in accelerant and ignited the flames. At one point, he said he "will no longer be complicit in genocide," the person said. The video was later removed from the platform, but law enforcement officials have obtained and reviewed a copy.

The person was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Police did not immediately provide any additional details about the incident.

The incident happened as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking the cabinet approval for a military operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah while a temporary ceasefire deal is being negotiated. Israel's military offensive in Gaza, however, has drawn criticisms, including genocide claims against the Palestinians.

Israel has adamantly denied the genocide allegations and says it is carrying out operations in accordance with international law in the Israel-Hamas war.

In December, a person self-immolated outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta and used gasoline as an accelerant, according to Atlanta's fire authorities. A Palestinian flag was found at the scene, and the act was believed to be one of "extreme political protest."

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington said its officers had responded to the scene outside the Israeli Embassy to assist U.S. Secret Service officers and that its bomb squad had also been called to examine a suspicious vehicle. Police said no hazardous materials were found in the vehicle.

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