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Sen. Bernie Sanders Responds to Self-Immolation of Aaron Bushnell

Sanders said supporting Israel is a "terrible mistake."

Sen. Bernie Sanders Responds to Self-Immolation of Aaron Bushnell

Sen. Bernie Sanders has responded to the self-immolation of Aaron Bushnell, an active-duty airman who live-streamed his extreme act of protest outside the Israel Embassy in DC on Sunday.

Bushnell, 25, was transported to a hospital after the fire was extinguished but succumbed to his injuries.

"My name is Aaron Bushnell, I am an active-duty member of the United States Air Force and I will no longer be complicit in genocide," Bushnell said in the video. "I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it's not extreme at all."

Sanders, who is Jewish, has expressed that Israel has a right to "destroy Hamas terrorism" but has also condemned the massive civilian death toll in Gaza.

The progressive lawmaker was asked about Bushnell's death by a Newsweek reporter on Monday.

"It's obviously a terrible tragedy, but I think it speaks to the depths of despair that so many people are feeling now about the horrific humanitarian disaster taking place in Gaza, and I share those deep concerns," Sanders said. "Children are starving. People are dying—29,000 Palestinians have died, two-thirds of them women and children. The United States has got to stand up to Netanyahu and make sure this does not continue."

The Newsweek reporter followed up by asking how the international community sees the U.S. after such a harrowing incident.

Sanders stated bluntly that supporting Israel is a "terrible mistake."

"We are increasingly isolated," he said. "The international community understands that what Netanyahu is doing is a humanitarian disaster. It is a horror, and we continue to be one of the very few countries in the world that stand by Israel, and I think that is a terrible, terrible mistake. And as you may know, I'm doing everything I can to make sure that the United States government does not send another nickel to Netanyahu to continue this terrible war."

Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal noted, "US Airman Aaron Bushnell did not kill himself to protest some other country's war The US Department of Defense has compelled the participation of Air Force members like Bushnell in Israel's Gaza genocide."

Blumenthal continued, "Their orders to deploy to Israel read 'mandatory.'"

According to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, roughly 30,000 people have been killed since Israel began the siege in October.

Though U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed doubt about the reported number of deaths, the ministry's numbers have historically been accurate.

"The State Department has regularly cited ministry statistics without caveats in its annual human rights reports," the Washington Post reported in a fact check of Biden's statement. "The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which tracks deaths in the conflict, has found the ministry’s numbers to be reliable after conducting its own investigation. 'Past experience indicated that tolls were reported with high accuracy,' an OCHA official told The Fact Checker."

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