Netanyahu calls self-immolation a 'personal tragedy'

Yechimovich warns Silman shouldn't become symbol of social protests; MK witnesses, tweets demonstrator's suicide attempt.

July 15, 2012 16:59
2 minute read.
Moshe Silman, who set hemself afire in Tel Aviv.

Self-immolator Tel Aviv fire protester Moshe Silman 390. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and the Construction and Housing ministries on Sunday to look into the circumstances surrounding the self-immolation of social protester Moshe Silman on Saturday night.

“We are speaking of a great personal tragedy,” Netanyahu said at a meeting of Likud ministers. “I wish Moshe a full recovery.”

President Shimon Peres also expressed his hope that Silman will make a full recovery.

“I hope that the doctors at [Sheba Medical Center] will be able to lessen his suffering as much as possible,” Peres added in a conversation with the hospital’s deputy director.

Opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich (Labor) said that “tough standards to receive public housing and the lack of a social security network brought many, like Moshe Silman, to despair and a dead end.”

Yechimovich added that she is praying for Silman’s health, but that suicide is an extreme act and he should not serve as an example or an inspiration for anyone.

“[Silman] certainly should not be seen as the symbol of the social protest,” the Labor leader stated.

Former opposition leader Tzipi Livni warned on her Facebook page that Silman is not the only person to reach “the most difficult level of despair,” adding that she hopes others will not follow his actions.

Livni said an immediate “change in the system” is necessary otherwise the economic situation will only get worse, influencing many people’s lives.

MK Nino Abesadze (Kadima) witnessed the self-immolation in Tel Aviv, tweeting at 10:23 p.m. on Saturday night: “I am shocked. Someone seems to have set himself on fire, right by me at the protest.”

Soon after, she wrote that she believes in all of the protesters’ demands, identifies with the pain Silman described in his suicide note and is praying for Silman’s recovery.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, speaking to reporters before the weekly cabinet meeting, said there was no doubt that Silman acted out of distress and despair.

He said this action needed to remind everyone of the distress and depravation some in the country have to deal with.

“It has to remind us as a society, and as individuals, that we have to be sensitive and attentive to the distress of others, and – as much as possible – to try to help so that things like this do not happen in the future.”

“This is not the right way to reach the protest’s goals,” the Kadima MK added.

Knesset Economics Committee chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) said that an in-depth examination by the authorities in Silman’s case is necessary.

Shama-Hacohen wrote on his Facebook page that he plans to discuss the matter with the National Insurance Institute, the Construction and Housing Ministry and all other government offices that Silman turned to for aid.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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