Moshe Silman in Critical Condition; Renewed Protests in Tel Aviv

Most of Silman's burns are second- and third-degree, which are the most serious kind; no apparent organ damage as yet.

Moshe Silman, who set himself on fire Saturday night to protest his inability to obtain government housing assistance, was still alive Sunday, despite suffering burns on 94 percent of his body. But Dr. Joseph Hayak, head of the burn unit at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, said that Silman was still in very serious condition.

Most of his burns are second- and third-degree, which are the most serious kind, Hayak noted. And while so far, none of Silman’s organs seem to have been damaged, he added that, “burns of that type are liable to liable cause damage later to organs such as the heart, lungs, intestines, kidneys and liver.”

Silman is currently in an induced coma and is likely to be kept that way for several days, Hayak said. If he survives, he will require seven to nine months of hospitalization. Moreover, since most of his skin was burned, he has little left for a potential transplant, though he could receive a skin transplant from someone else, Hayak noted.

Nevertheless, Hayak added, hospitals have at times succeeded in saving patients’ lives in similar cases.

Meanwhile, about a hundred protesters clashed with police near the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem yesterday in a rally provoked by Silman’s self-immolation.

The protest, which joined similar ones in Haifa and Tel Aviv and was held under the banner “We’re all Moshe Silman − the blood is on the government’s hands,” started off in the capital’s Independence Park and proceeded down Gaza Street, ending near the premier’s residence.

Along the way, protesters blocked some nearby roads, chanted slogans against the government and in favor of public housing, and brandished signs reading, “The poor won’t have anything to eat, and they’ll eat the rich,” and “Desperation burns − who’s next?”

Silman, a 57-year-old resident of Haifa, set himself on fire during the Tel Aviv demonstration marking the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of last summer’s social protests.

“The State of Israel stole from me and robbed me. It left me helpless,” he wrote in a letter which he left at the scene. “Two Housing and Construction Ministry committees rejected me [for government housing assistance], even though I had a stroke.”

In Tel Aviv, about 200 protesters gathered near government offices in the city, holding signs displaying an enlarged copy of Silman’s letter, as well as signs reading “Bibi, you burned us too.”

One of the demonstration’s organizers, Lital Bar, said she had tried to help Silman in recent months. During those months, she said, he told her “of a country that ran roughshod over him in every possible way.”

“I want to ask Moshe Silman for forgiveness, for not being able to do more,” she added. “He deserved more than the country could give him.”