Thousands of Israelis rally for social justice – Protester sets himself on fire
By iol.co.za, – Tel Aviv -
An Israeli demonstrator who set himself on fire during a cost-of-living protest in Tel Aviv is in critical condition, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.
Moshe Silman, believed to be in his 50s, suffered third-degree burns to 80-90 percent of his body after his act of self-immolation Saturday, and is unconscious on a respirator in intensive care at Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer-Sheba hospital, the station said.
The hospital’s spokesman was not immediately available.
Friends and relatives said Silman committed the act out of financial despair, after social services failed to deal with sufficient urgency with his request for housing aid.
Witnesses said the man arrived at the demonstration carrying flammable liquid in a bottle.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday spoke of a “great personal tragedy” and asked the welfare and housing ministry to look into his case.
Thousands of Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba Saturday night to mark one year since the start of socio-economic protests against the cost of living in the country, especially of housing.
Thousands of Israelis rally for social justice
From chinadaily.com – TEL AVIV – Thousands of Israelis rallied Saturday evening in Tel Aviv, calling for social justice.
In Tel Aviv, a protester spilled inflammable substances and set himself on fire after reading out a letter saying “the State of Israel has robbed me, left me with nothing.”
The man suffered from second and third degree burn over 80 percent of his body, and has been hospitalized in intensive care, according to Zaki Heller, spokesman for Magen David Adom (Israel’s emergency rescue service).
The protest in Tel Aviv was organized by some prominent activists, among them is Dafni Leef, who erected the first tent in the city’s main avenue on July 14 last year to protest against high cost of living and social injustice in Israel, echoed by up to one million Israelis.
“I just knew I couldn’t take it anymore. I was kicked out of my apartment and couldn’t pay the rent,” Leef told Xinhua, adding that “I realized that it’s not just me, everybody around me were suffering. And suddenly everything started to snowball,” she said.
“I’m a father of a three-year-old boy and it’s a nightmare trying to get through the months,” Avi Harel, 33, from Tel Aviv said. “My wife and I both work but our salaries are too low. Prices of food, electricity and gas are killing us. There’s no real free education system here. Affording an apartment is a dream and we need our parents to help us get by. Sometimes I feel like I ‘m a crushed ant.”
The protesters held slogans calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Others read “the people demand a welfare state,” “We’ve changed — now it’s time for the government to change,” and “There’s no peace, no social justice — time to take out the government.”
“People are still collapsing financially,” Leef said, “We are all suffering from heavy financial burden and sharing mutual experience of trying to survive, but that’s not how it should be. It’s time for the country to take care of us but not the tycoons.”
In another protest in Tel Aviv, demonstrators marched along the promenade, holding signs reading “Israel is too expensive,” “It’s time for a rent revolution” and “the people demand civil rights.”
Those participating in the second protest are fallouts from the main movement. They criticized some of its leaders for possessing personal political aspirations, resenting some activists’ insistence on the protest’s political nature.
However, the organizer of the promenade walk, Yair Olmert, said that “The divide is over relevant issues, it’s nothing personal,” adding that “We believe in a protest which is not affiliated with political interests.” More…