A few thousand protesters blocked a portion of the Ayalon Highway in solidarity
with Moshe Silman, who set himself on fire in the name of social justice a day
Earlier, protesters held a moment of silence when false rumors
circulated that Silman had died of wounds he suffered from the
Protesters began banging on an ATM machine but Border
Police gathered around it and protected it from further damage.
were a few scuffles with police who were walking around with camcorders to
record any kind of provocation.
While traffic on the Ayalon and on the
streets came to a standstill due to the protest, in some parts of the city cafes
and restaurants were going about life as normal, a far cry from the popular
demonstrations last year.
“It’s going to be a rage demonstration,” said
Yael Ben Yefet, an organizer and director at the Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow. “I
think people are on the verge of crying, as am I, or want to strike someone or
She added that if violence erupted, it would not be initiated
by protesters, but would be a form of “counter-violence.”
violence – by the government. They are the violent ones. And maybe today
something will strike back,” she said.
Demonstrators read aloud the
suicide note left behind by Silman, who accused the government, Finance Minister
Yuval Steinitz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of being directly
responsible for his financial predicament. Silman had complained that he
received no rent assistance despite being unable to work after having recently suffered a
Participants at the event included Hadash MK Dov Henin, social
protest leader Stav Shafir and other activists affiliated with the movement that
began a year and a day ago on Rothschild Boulevard.
Other protests took
place simultaneously in Jerusalem, Silman’s hometown of Haifa and in
In Jerusalem, police arrested at least three demonstrators
after they tried to block roads at Paris Square. About 80 demonstrators marched
from Independence Park to the Prime Minister’s Residence chanting: “We are all
Moshe Silman!” The protest started peacefully but once the demonstrators
attempted to block the road, clashes broke out between them and police, though
there were no injuries.
Demonstrators also tried to block the light rail
and screamed “Let’s burn ourselves!” The protest ended at the National Insurance
Institute building in downtown Jerusalem.
In Haifa, dozens of protesters
demonstrated outside government offices and expressed solidarity with Silman.
Some of the protesters said they identified with the man who set himself alight
Saturday night, saying that they too had been pushed to the edge by government
bureaucracy relating to public housing, Army Radio reported.
threatened to set himself on fire at an Orange branch in Petah Tikva on Sunday
over an outstanding debt.
The man, a resident of Ariel, doused himself
with gasoline and threatened suicide if the company did not waive his debt,
estimated at about NIS 20,000.
Police arrested the man, and are
considering sending him for a psychological evaluation.
Oded Ne’eman, an
Israeli who attends Harvard University and is home on vacation, tried to boil
down the social protest movement into a few sentences.
is very little chance for the middle class and down to make a living here,” the
30-year-old PhD student in philosophy said. “[This is about] more just division
of goods through more taxation of the privileged, the old traditional way. Even
now, tax is not collected properly.
Those with much pay little and get
away with huge debts, but those who have nothing cannot pay back their debts.
People recognize this and won’t let it go on.”
Melanie Lidman and
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.