The Defense Ministry vowed to establish an investigative committee after a disabled veteran set himself on fire at a Defense Ministry office on Monday afternoon. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi said that Israel owed its military veterans a “great debt” as Itzik Saidian, the disabled vet, remained in critical condition.As of Wednesday, Saidian remains under anesthetic in stable condition at the intensive care burn unit at Sheba Medical Center, the hospital said in a statement.
Saidian, a 26-year-old veteran of the Golani Brigade, arrived at the offices of the Defense Ministry’s Rehabilitation Division in Petah Tikva and set himself on fire.
The Defense Ministry said that Saidian was diagnosed with PTSD, (post-traumatic stress disorder) after seeing combat action during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.
“On behalf of myself and the entire IDF, I wish a speedy and complete recovery to Itzik Saidian, a former soldier in the Golani Brigade who is hospitalized in serious condition,” Kohavi said Tuesday as he visited Saidian’s family at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. “Among our fighters and our reservists are those whose injuries cannot be seen and they carry in their minds the scars of battle for many years.
“The IDF and the people of Israel owe a great debt to those who risk their lives for the protection of the state, and we must do everything we can to fight for them,” he added.
Saidian served in the battle of Shaja’iya during Operation Protective Edge, in which 13 soldiers, including Oron Shaul whose body is still being held by Hamas in Gaza, were killed.
Saidian’s commanders from the Golani Brigade arrived at the hospital on Monday night to support and accompany his family.
Despite the outpouring of support, Saidian’s friends had harsh criticism for the Defense Ministry, which they said created bureaucratic obstacles for Saidian to receive the help he desperately needed.
“Who decides what is caused by what? He lost his friends. You have to prove you’re not a liar; he was rejected every time, they brought him to the edge. The writing was written in blood on the wall,” said Yaron Porter, a friend of Saidian’s, in an interview with KAN Reshet Bet.
“He carried the post-trauma from Shaja’iya. He suffered severe shell-shock. He suffered from severe nightmares – you can see all kinds of levels of post-trauma – he was very introverted and quiet. He suffered greatly,” his friend lamented.
“There are nightmares at night, sleep is not really sleep. You usually go back to battle, you’re kind of a walking dead after a night like this,” Porter said. “There are tantrums, nerves, lack of concentration, bursts of crying. I blame the Rehabilitation Division directly for what happened.”
Also Tuesday, Saidian’s siblings said that their brother was neglected by the Defense Ministry. “Everyone thought he was just talking,” his brother Avi said. “Help him. Help all the other soldiers. Pray for him.”
Saidian’s sister Leah said that there are thousands of soldiers like her brother who suffer from PTSD. “Make sure this is the last case. Don’t close the door on these soldiers,” she said.