Disabled IDF vet dies after setting himself on fire

Akiva Mapiai became disabled in a training accident at age 23, at the IDF Ground Forces Command’s Tze’elim training base.

Self Immolation 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Self Immolation 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A disabled IDF veteran succumbed to his wounds on Tuesday night, a week and a half after he set himself on fire to protest his financial situation.
Akiva Mapiai, 45, is the second Israeli to die of self-inflicted burns in recent weeks.
The wheelchair-bound Mapiai poured gasoline on his body at a bus station outside Yehud on July 22 and was rushed to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, suffering severe burns across 70 percent of his body. He was disabled at age 23 during a training accident while performing reserve duty.
He was never married and had no children.
His family said that he had tired of fighting with the Defense Ministry and the social welfare services to receive benefits and was in heavy debt. His brother said Mapiai had expressed a desire to follow in the footsteps of Moshe Silman, who died on July 20 after setting himself on fire at the end of a social justice demonstration in Tel Aviv six days earlier.
In a letter he handed out on the street before he set himself ablaze, Silman said, “The State of Israel robbed me and stole from me, leaving me with nothing.”
Silman said he had not been able to get help finding an apartment and that he had been denied such assistance twice. He was facing possible homelessness when he decided to kill himself.
“I blame the State of Israel, and the bastards [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and [Finance Minister Yuval] Steinitz, for the humiliation suffered by weak citizens every day, for taking from the poor to give to the rich and state employees,” he said in his letter.
Several similar attempts at suicide by fire followed Silman’s act, including a Kfar Saba man who was stopped by a police officer as he tried to set himself on fire at a National Insurance Institute branch in the city on Tuesday. Later in the day, a police officer also stopped a Jerusalem man who was trying to set himself on fire outside an NII branch in the capital.