A protester with a Palestinian flag was in critical condition Friday after self-immolating outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta in what police called an “extreme” political act.
A security guard who tried to stop the self-immolation sustained burn injuries, according to emergency first responders. The guard’s condition was not immediately known.
“We believe that was an act of extreme political protest,” said Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum. “A Palestinian flag was reported at the location and was part of the protest.”
The protester arrived at the building that houses the Israeli consulate and several other businesses and used gasoline to self-immolate, Schierbaum said.
Authorities did not release the protester’s name, age or gender.
Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith told journalists that “the security guard noticed that the individual was attempting to set themselves afire” shortly after the protester arrived outside the consulate building around noon (1700 GMT).
The guard “immediately attempted but failed to stop the individual.”
#DEVELOPING: ATF, FBI, and APD on scene of an incident outside the Israeli Consulate General building in Atlanta, Georgia, that has left two people injured.
Burnt items are seen at the scene. Circumstances unclear as of now. pic.twitter.com/vuy0Us7QBK
— Moshe Schwartz (@YWNReporter) December 1, 2023
“Both individuals sustained burns,” Smith said. The guard was burned on his wrist and leg while the protester was in critical condition with “100 degree burns, full thickness” to their body, he added. Both were taken to the hospital.
The FBI’s Atlanta office said it was coordinating with local law enforcement on the incident.
Schierbaum added: “We actually have dedicated patrols that are occurring at this location and other Jewish and Muslim communities in the city.”
“We believe this building remains safe, and we do not see any threat here,” he added.
The United States has seen an uptick in antisemitic incidents, anti-Arab and Islamophobic threats and violence since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza on October 7, when thousands of Palestinian terrorists invaded southern Israel from Gaza and killed about 1,200 people amid brutal atrocities, mostly civilians, while taking some 240 hostages.
Jewish and Israeli sites like synagogues, eateries, and areas have been vandalized and threatened across North America over the past two months, and a pro-Israel protester died after being struck in the head by a pro-Palestinian protester in Los Angeles last month. Paul Kessler suffered a fatal blow to the head by a pro-Palestinian protester who struck him with a megaphone. Police arrested the suspect and are still investigating.
Police are also still investigating the fatal stabbing of Detroit synagogue leader — Samantha Woll, 40, in October whose death had stoked speculation that it could be tied to animus over the war — but have cautioned against speculation over the motive for the murder.
Earlier Friday, false bomb threats were made against 15 synagogues in New York State.
Earlier this week, a 48-year-old man was charged with attempted murder over the shooting of three men of Palestinian descent in Vermont.
A six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death and his mother was injured in Illinois in October. US authorities said the victims were targeted because of their Muslim faith and as a response to the Israel-Hamas war.