Hamas Joins US Leftists in Hailing Airman Who Self-Immolated: ‘Immortal’ in Palestinian Memory

Palestinian members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement
Palestinian members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement / Getty Images
February 27, 2024

Hamas, along with some prominent left-wingers in the United States, this week valorized an airman who lit himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., in protest of the Jewish state's war in Gaza—with the terror group saying he would live "immortal" in Palestinian memory.

"The heroic pilot Aaron Bushnell will remain immortal in the memory of our Palestinian people and the free people of the world, and a symbol of the spirit of global human solidarity with our people and their just cause," Hamas said in a statement Tuesday, according to Al Jazeera's Arabic news platform.

Bushnell, a 25-year-old active-duty member of the United States Air Force, stood outside the embassy on Sunday and declared he would "no longer be complicit in genocide" before he poured a liquid on himself and set it ablaze, video showed. He yelled, "Free Palestine," before he collapsed and police attempted to douse the flames. Emergency services then transported him to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Hamas added in its statement that President Joe Biden's administration "bears full responsibility" for Bushnell's death. The group also said Bushnell "gave his life to shed light on the Zionist massacres and ethnic cleansing against our people in the Gaza Strip."

In addition to Hamas, a presenter on the Palestinian Authority's official TV station made similar comments in a Tuesday broadcast.

"The fact that the American pilot Bushnell burned himself yesterday is nothing more than an expression of the growing anger among the American people against government policy, and it comes as a defense of humanitarian values ​​and the justice of the Palestinian issue," the presenter said in a translation Palestinian Media Watch provided to the Washington Free Beacon.

Before the Hamas announcement, a number of leftists in the United States, including two third-party presidential candidates, appeared to praise Bushnell's suicide.

"Let us never forget the extraordinary courage and commitment of brother Aaron Bushnell who died for truth and justice," independent candidate Cornel West said Monday on X. "I pray for his precious loved ones! Let us rededicate ourselves to genuine solidarity with Palestinians undergoing genocidal attacks in real time!"

Green Party candidate Jill Stein also took to X the same day to make a similar comment, attaching a picture of Bushnell in the act of self-immolation to her post.

"Rest in power Aaron Bushnell," Stein wrote. "'I will no longer be complicit in genocide. Free Palestine!' May his sacrifice deepen our commitment to stop genocide now."

Bushnell's self-immolation appears to be the most severe act of protest in the United States since the beginning of the Gaza war. Earlier this month, protesters blocked major roadways in D.C., chanting such slogans as "Long live the intifada" and "Israel go to hell." Demonstrators for the same cause also blocked bridges in New York City on Jan. 8. That same day, hecklers shouted down Biden during a speech at a black church in South Carolina, calling on him to support a ceasefire.