Palestinian city Jericho names street after 'martyr' Aaron Bushnell

Palestinian city Jericho names street after 'martyr' Aaron Bushnell
Aaron Bushnell set himself on fire on 25 February in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, to denounce genocide in Gaza.
3 min read
11 March, 2024
Bushnell became a symbol among those protesting Israel's war in Gaza after he set himself on fire in February, calling for a "Free Palestine". (Photo by SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

The council of the famed Palestinian city of Jericho, known in Arabic as 'Ariha', has named a street after Aaron Bushnell.

Abdul Karim Sidr, the mayor of Jericho in the occupied West Bank, said Bushnell had "sacrificed everything" for Palestinians at a ceremony to unveil the new street sign on Sunday.

US airman Bushnell set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington on 26 February to protest Israel's war on Gaza, which has killed 31,112 Palestinians to date.

"We didn’t know him, and he didn’t know us. 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 [on Gaza]," the mayor said standing in front of a small crowd gathered at the ceremony. 

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"I will no longer be complicit in genocide," Bushnell said in a video livestreamed on Twitch during his self-immolation.

"I’m 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."

As flames engulfed him, Bushnell repeatedly shouted "Free Palestine!" before collapsing. He died from his wounds shortly after.

Bushnell has since become a symbol of sacrifice for pro-Palestine activists around the world with vigils held after his deaths in various cities across the US and his portrayed displayed at anti-war protests.

Bushnell's picture even made it onto billboards in the Yemeni capital Sanaa last week.

The street in Bushnell's honor is located in the south of the city and branches into a street named after Mahmoud Darwish, often considered as Palestine's national poet.

Pictures of the street sign have been widely shared by social media users on X and Instagram, with huge support for the decision. 

Jericho council has also named a city square after South Africa when it filed a motion with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of genocide.

Other Palestinian cities have also made similar gestures to foreign supporters of Palestine.

In 2010, Ramallah renamed one of its streets to honour American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 as she tried to prevent the Israeli army from demolishing houses in Gaza. She was only 23 at the time.

But Jericho's mayor hopes the city's touristic draw will help spread awareness about solidarity for Palestine among future visitors.

"These names will focus attention of both the locals and visitors," Sidr explained at the ceremony.

The modern city of Jericho was a major draw for tourism to the Palestinian territories before the war on Gaza, due to its historical sites and proximity to the Dead Sea. 

It is one of the longest continuously inhabited cities on Earth and is home to a multitude of archeological sites. In 2023, it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.