Netanyahu orders probe into case of demonstrator who set himself alight

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the relevant ministries to look into the case of an Israeli social justice protester who set himself on fire at a Tel Aviv demonstration.

Moshe Silman, 57, of Haifa, poured gasoline on his body and set himself alight Saturday night during a demonstration marking the one-year anniversary of the start of social justice protests last summer.

Silman is the victim of "a great and personal tragedy," Netanyahu said Sunday.

Silman, who was burned on more than 90 percent of his body and is in serious condition at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital, left behind a letter in which he blamed “the state of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for the humiliation that the weakened citizens go through every day, taking from the poor and giving to the rich.”

“The state of Israel stole from me and robbed me. It left me helpless,” his letter said.

Silman owed money to the Tax Authority and to the National Insurance Institute of Israel, but his payments ballooned over procedural errors and lost court cases, according to Ynet. He lost his apartment and was unable to receive public housing, then suffered a stroke but was only able to collect minimal disability, according to Israeli reports.

Some 10,000 demonstrators took part in the Tel Aviv protest, with simultaneous protests also taking place in Jerusalem and Haifa.

 

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