Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday he will bring to a government vote broad reforms to the rehabilitation policies of IDF soldiers and veterans within two weeks.
“The plight of the disabled and wounded in the IDF is real. For many years we have not updated our policies, which require first aid treatment as well as comprehensive reform," he said at the end of a meeting with IDF Disabled Veterans Organization Chairman Idan Kliman.
The premier's remarks came just hours after hundreds of demonstrators blocked roads in front of the IDF General Staff headquarters in Tel Aviv in protest of alleged government neglect of soldiers and veterans carrying mental and physical disabilities from their military service.
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 (PTSD) who has set himself alight at a Rehabilitation Department office in Petah Tikva last week after officials repeatedly denied his requests to adjust the severity of his disability.
Saidyan is hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center in critical condition, having sustained significant burns to his entire body.
Kliman showed cautious optimism for a real change after the meeting with Netanyahu but also added that he and his fellow protesters will take to the streets again if the premier does not follow through on his promise.
"If there won't be any change, we will come back here with great force and we will not give up. In the next two weeks, the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization will deal with this outline and if it turns out to be all talk without action, we will immediately return to the streets. Together we will win," Kliman said.
"We are very concerned that another incident like Saidyan's could happen again and we won't agree to any interim solutions or mere statements. The IDF disabled vets have paid the ultimate price to the state and have been neglected for many years. I hope that change begins today. The vets deserve proper, fair and respectful treatment. This is not a favor.