Hamas hails US airman’s anti-war self-immolation as symbol of global solidarity

Hamas on Tuesday said a US airman who died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington would “remain immortal” for his shocking anti-war protest.

Footage of the self-immolation was widely shared online, and the militant group said it was “an expression of the growing state of anger among the American people” over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

The war was sparked by the Palestinian militant group’s surprise October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the death of 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Israel’s military launched a devastating response, aimed at destroying Hamas, that in less than five months has killed nearly 30,000 people in the Gaza Strip, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

The airman “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 issued in English.

In the footage of Sunday’s protest, the military fatigues-wearing man declares he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid, lighting himself on fire and yelling “Free Palestine!” until he collapses.

His death was announced on Monday.

Some members of US President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party are attempting to press him on his support for Israel, with Arab American voters in Michigan pledging to vote “uncommitted” or write in “Free Palestine” on their ballots in the state’s primary on Tuesday.

The White House has tried to assuage Arab and Muslim voters’ concerns in part by portraying the president as frustrated with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

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