Jericho honours Aaron Bushnell with street name

Mayor of West Bank city says US serviceman who set himself on fire in protest against the Gaza war 'sacrificed everything'

Jericho has named a street after Aaron Bushnell. Photo: Jericho Municipality
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The city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank unveiled a street named in honour of a US Air Force serviceman who self-immolated outside Israel’s embassy in Washington in protest against the Gaza war.

Jericho Mayor Abdul Karim Sidr told a crowd gathered for the naming ceremony on Sunday that 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell “sacrificed everything” for the Palestinian cause.

“We did not know him and he did not know us,” Mr Sidr said. "There were no social, economic or political ties between us. What we share is a love for freedom and a desire to stand against these attacks."

Mr Bushnell live-streamed setting himself on fire last month while shouting “free Palestine”.

Authorities rushed to put out the flames but he died in hospital that same evening.

Before dousing himself in a flammable liquid, Mr Bushnell had filmed himself saying he was “about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonisers, it’s not extreme at all”.

“This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal,” he said.

Mr Bushnell’s actions were praised internationally by many supporters of the Palestinian cause, despite significant controversy over whether he was facing mental health challenges at the time.

Palestinian-American journalist Mariam Barghouti wrote on Twitter the day after his death: “We need more people like you alive. Brave, challenging voices, ones that are unwavering in their recognition of justice.”

American philosopher Cornel West said: “Let us never forget the extraordinary courage and commitment of brother Aaron Bushnell who died for truth and justice! I pray for his precious loved ones! Let us rededicate ourselves to genuine solidarity with Palestinians undergoing genocidal attacks in real time!”

Mr Bushnell’s self-immolation was also lauded by Hamas, with the group saying he would “remain immortal”. Militant officials blamed the administration of US President Joe Biden and its support for Israel for the death.

Israel’s continuing campaign in Gaza has killed more than 31,100 Palestinians and injured more than 72,000.

Hopes of a ceasefire over Ramadan dwindled last week after reports that Israel and Hamas were unable to agree on a framework to release Israeli hostages for Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, among other negotiating points.

The apparent breakdown in talks comes as Mr Biden faces mounting domestic anger during an election year over steadfast US support for Israel throughout the war.

Updated: March 11, 2024, 3:00 PM