Yechimovich: Self-immolation mustn't be idealized

50-year-old disabled IDF veteran sets himself on fire in Yehud, is in serious condition; case is the 5th self-immolation attempt.

July 22, 2012 14:37
2 minute read.
Candle-light vigil for Moshe Silman in Tel Aviv

Candle-light vigil for Moshe Silman in Tel Aviv 390. (photo credit: Michael Omer-Man)


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Labor chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich warned against self-immolation becoming a legitimate act of protest on Sunday, following the fifth attempted suicide-by-fire in a week's time.

A 50-year-old disabled IDF veteran set himself on fire in Yehud Sunday and was in serious condition with burns over 80 percent of his body.

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Acknowledging the victimization of the first prominent man who set himself alight, Moshe Silman, Yechimovich said, "[Silman's] suicide cannot be allowed to become a legitimate act of protest."

"Taking one's own life is an extreme and awful act and it cannot be idealized," she added.

Passers-by found the man burning and extinguished the flames before paramedics arrived. Paramedics treated the man on the scene and evacuated him to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer where he was in serious condition.

"His story is a difficult one, his emotional and economic situations weren't easy," said Dudi Gilboa, a member of a veterans group who knows the man.

Gilboa told Israel Radio he and the wheelchair-bound veteran had been embroiled in a dispute with authorities in charge of rehabilitating and helping wounded veterans.

"We have mourned our friends in battle, we don't want to lose them like this," Gilboa said, echoing the concerns of many in Israel that the July 14 self-immolation of Moshe Silman, at a march against rising housing and food prices, might be copied.

The wave of self-immolations was started by Moshe Silman, a Haifa man who set himself on fire at the end of a social justice protest in Tel Aviv on July 14. Silman succumbed to his wounds on Friday. He was to be buried Sunday evening.

On Saturday night, a candle-light protest vigil was held in Tel Aviv at the spot where Silman self-immolated exactly a week before. Friends and protesters read aloud his letter and chanted slogans representative of Silman's grievances.

In a note he passed out to fellow protesters and passers-by before dousing himself with gasoline and setting himself alight, Silman detailed how he was denied benefits and consistently ruled again by district courts, leading to a situation where he was about to become homeless.

He had no choices left but he was just not ready to live on the streets,” Rabbi Idit Lev, Manager of Rabbis for Human Rights’ Social Justice Project, who has been in close contact with Silman for more than a year attempting to help him navigate impossible bureaucracy and get the state to help him, told The Jerusalem Post.

Ruth Eglash and Reuters contributed to this report.

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