JERUSALEM (JTA) — Protesters set fire to a branch of Israel’s National Insurance Institute in solidarity with a man who set himself alight the previous night.
The vandals set fire to the institute’s branch in Ramat Gan Sunday night following a rally in Tel Aviv to support Moshe Silman, who 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.
The words “Price tag Moshe Silman” were written on the wall of the building. Several thousand protesters had blocked the main Ayalon Highway in central Tel Aviv in support of Silman, whose issues with the National Insurance Institute and other government agencies are said to have led to his desperate act.
Silman, who was burned on more than 90 percent of his body and remains 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, 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.
In another incident Sunday, a man threatened to set himself alight in Petach Tikvah over an outstanding debt to a cell phone company.