Hundreds of Israelis Protest State's Social Policy, in Wake of Self-immolation

Moshe Silman a 57-year-old Haifa resident, set himself on fire during a Tel Aviv demonstration, and was rushed to the city's Ichilov Hospital in critical condition.

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About a hundred protesters clashed with police near the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on Sunday, in a rally summoned following the self-immolation of a Haifa resident during a protest marking one year since the onset of social unrest in Israel.

On Saturday, Moshe Silman a 57-year-old Haifa resident, set himself on fire during a Tel Aviv demonstration, and was rushed to the city's Ichilov Hospital in critical condition.

"The state of Israel stole from me and robbed me. It left me helpless," wrote Silman in a letter he left at the scene.

"Two Housing and Construction Ministry committees rejected me, even though I had a stroke," wrote Silman in the letter, adding that the facts could be checked with a public housing company in Haifa.

On Sunday, protesters descended on Jerusalem's Gaza Street, not far from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence.

The protest, which joins similar ones in Haifa and Tel Aviv and held under the title "We're all Moshe Silman – The Blood is on The Government's Hands," started off in the capitol's Independence Park and ended near the Prime Minister's Residence.

Along the way, protesters blocked some of the nearby roads, chanting slogans against the government and for public housing, and lifting signs reading "The Poor Won't Have Anything to Eat, and They'll Eat the Rich," and "Desperation Burns – Who's Next?"

In Tel Aviv, about 200 social protesters are rallying near government buildings in the city, holding signs displaying a blow up of Silman's letter, as well as signs reading "Bibi, you burned us too."

Later on, protesters also disrupted traffic in the area, blocking the city's Ayalon Highway as well as Arlosoroff Street, which leads to the city's central train station.

One of the rally's organizers, Lital Bar, said that she had tried to aid Silman in recent months, saying that he had told her "of a country that trampled him in every possible way," adding: "I want to ask Moshe Siman for his forgiveness, for not being able to do more. He deserved more than the country could give him."

Silman 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.

A social protest rally in Tel Aviv, July 15, 2012.Credit: Moti Milrod

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