A 72-year-old man heavily in debt walked into a bank in Holon armed with flammable liquid on Tuesday and threatened to set himself on fire.
The incident occurred at the Leumi Bank branch on Holon’s Eilat Street, and sparked fears that people in financial and personal distress could continue to copy the actions of social justice activist Moshe Silman, who, facing near-homelessness, critically injured himself in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.
“The bank security guard called us,” a Tel Aviv police spokeswoman said. “Officers arrived and calmed the man down. He was then arrested and taken to a station.”
Attempted suicide is not a criminal offense, despite the fact that pouring flammable liquids in a public area is an obvious public hazard. Police have no operational way of preparing for a series of such copycat acts and can only hope the phenomenon will fade away.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, firefighters rushed to a branch of the Interior Ministry on Mesilat Yesharim Street after receiving reports that a man was threatening to burn himself.
However, the man left the scene before authorities could arrive and did not douse himself with flammable material.
Silman, 46, set himself on fire on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street during a social justice protest, and remains in critical condition, with burns covering 94 percent of his body.
Paramedics rushed him to the city’s Sourasky Medical Center on Saturday. He was later moved to a burn unit at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
Earlier on Tuesday, a man tried to set himself on fire in Eilat, and on Monday, there was a case of arson at the National Insurance Institute building in Ramat Gan – a branch of one of the institutions Silman blamed for his financial woes.