Shocking event during social protest in Tel Aviv: Haifa resident Moshe Silman, who is in his 40s, set himself on fire on Saturday during a march for social justice on Tel Aviv's Kaplan street and was rushed to the Sourasky Medical Center suffering from third degree burns on 80% of his body.
He was later transferred to the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. Doctors in Sourasky said there is no danger to his life but that he is in serious condition.
Eye witnesses said Silman read out a letter before pouring flammable liquid over himself and setting himself on fire. He left copies of the letter scattered on the ground.
"The State of Israel robbed me and left me with nothing," he wrote.
Silman complained about legal proceedings he was forced to undergo. "You can't even get rent support, two Housing Ministry committees rejected me despite the fact I had a stroke and lost ability to work. I blame Israel's public servants: The National Insurance Institute.
Protesters pour water over man (Photo: AFP)
"I blame the State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Yuval Steinitz for the constant humiliation the citizens of Israel have to endure on a day-to-day basis. They take from the poor and give to the rich. "
He added, "I can't afford medication or rent. I paid millions in tax, I served in the army and in the reserves until I was 46. I won't be homeless and that is why I am protesting against all the wrongs the state imposes on people like me."
Man immediately after Self-immolation (Photo: Moti Kimhi)
"We saw him leaving a house entrance holding a burning object in one hand and a can with flammable liquid on the other," an eye witness told Ynet. "He started pouring the stuff over himself and immediately set himself on fire, everyone poured water over him."
This is not the first self-immolation incident in Israel. In 2005, Yelena Bosinova, a 54-year-old resident of Qedumim, died after setting herself on fire near a checkpoint in Netivot in protest of the disengagement. She was unconscious and on a respirator machine for a week before she died of her wounds.
Man read out letter before setting himself on fire (Photo: Moti Kimhi)
Silman's friends said that they had feared he would set himself on fire after he had made several threats claiming he was going to do so. "He didn’t agree to be homeless."
His friends further said that the man had suffered from a stroke that had left him disabled. He tried to receive public housing from the State but was not granted the benefit despite his disability. "The state would not assist him with anything," they said.
"He told us he won't go back to being homeless and threatned to do something extreme," Ofer Barkan, a social activist from Haifa, told Ynet.
Yael, an activist from Haifa, said that a group of friends arranged to watch over Silman and expected him to show up at the demonstration in Haifa.
Earlier on Saturday, some 10,000 protesters marched from Habima Square towards the government compound on Kaplan street to mark one year since the first tent was erected in Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard.
"Today we are marking a one year anniversary to the civil awakening, to our taking of the streets and the profound understanding that we have stood by too long while our future was being sold away," protest leader Daphni Leef said.
Meanwhile, dozens marched along Tel Aviv's promenade as part of a separate protest. The demonstrators are carrying signs which read "The answer for rent – revolution" and chanting "The people demand social justice." Thousands marched in Jerusalem and dozens gathered in Haifa and Afula.
Boaz Fyler, Shahar Chai and Ahiya Raved contributed to this report
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