Hundreds of disabled IDF veterans on Sunday protested outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv demanding a review of rehabilitation policies and a reduction of bureaucracy that they are subjected to by the ministry.
The main roads next to the Defense Ministry were blocked intermittently by the protesters who also obstructed the Ayalon orbital road nearby.
The demonstrators carried signs bearing the IDF motto "No man left behind," and chanted the name of Itzik Saidyan, a 26-year-old veteran suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
Saidyan is fighting for his life in hospital after setting himself on fire last week at the Defense Ministry's local rehabilitation center in Petah Tikva over repeated refusal to adjust the severity of his disability.
Saidyan, who served in the Golani combat unit, was diagnosed with PTSD after the 2014 Gaza War, in which he took part in the fierce battle in the Shuja’iyya area of Gaza City in which 13 Israeli soldiers were killed.
One of the organizers of the protest told the crowd that Defense Minister Benny Gantz was working to convene a cabinet meeting on the demands of veterans and said that a representative for disabled veteran's affairs would meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day.
"We are making progress but will remain in the streets until we see what steps will be taken," the protest organizer said.
The Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization claims that the Defense Ministry has been remiss in handling their needs and that wounded veterans often have to prove to medical review boards that they are not lying in order to receive their rights.
Edan Kleiman, the head of the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization, branded the ministry's conduct scandalous.
"The tragic results are now evident, and it is time for the rehabilitation department to be revolutionized," Kleiman said.
Police forces at the scene, meanwhile, handed out bottles of water to the demonstrators who were protesting in unseasonably warm weather.
The Defense Ministry announced last Tuesday it has formed a panel to look into improving the rehabilitation offered to IDF veterans.
In a letter to the prime minister, Gantz demanded that the government immediately adopt a number of resolutions to improve the situation and begin a national program to treat with PTSD sufferers.
Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, also demanded legislation to protect the status of disabled veterans to ensure they receive their just compensation for harm caused on active duty.
The defense minister demanded a budget of NIS 30 million ($9.15 million) to renovate rehabilitation facilities where veterans can exercise and receive treatment.
"Disabled veterans of the IDF have sacrificed their health in the service of the country and we are bound by our commitment to provide the best care for them," Gantz wrote to Netanyahu.
"There is national consensus on this matter therefore there should be no delays in allocating resources."