SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — About 2,000 social justice activists have rallied in Tel Aviv, expressing support to Moshe Silman, the man who set himself on fire during a demonstration on Saturday. Protests have also been staged in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beershaba.
Activists were chanting “Bibi and Steinitz go home.” (Bibi is a political nickname of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yuval Steinitz is Israeli Finance Minister)
In Jerusalem five protesters were arrested while trying to block King George Street.
A letter left behind by Moshe Silman before making an act of self-immolation was read aloud to the audience at the rally. In the letter, Silman claims that the state of Israel robbed him and left him helpless. He blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for the everyday humiliation of citizens by “taking from the poor and giving to the rich."
Moshe Silman suffered burns to 90 per cent of his body and was hospitalized at Sheeba Medical Center in critical condition. Doctors say his organs are failing and chances of survival are slim.
Demonstrators blocked Ayalon Highway and several other streets in Tel Aviv. Most drivers on the highway waited patiently, some honking in support of the rally.
"I hope this helps. There are protests all the time, and nothing ever happens," driver Inbar Paz shared with Israeli Ynet News.
"Moshe isn't crazy, he's just like you and me," social activist Iliya Mershek told Ynet News. Most activists put the blame for Moshe Silman’s self-immolation on the Israeli government, which has failed to provide housing solutions, they say, thus forcing people like Silman to use the last-ditch arguments in search for truth.
Moshe Silman used to be a social justice activist in Haifa. A rally of some 100 people gathered there in Silman’s support on Sunday. The demonstrators held banners saying "This is not a personal tragedy, but an evil policy" and "The entire nation is Moshe Silman."
The movement against social injustice began in Israel over a year ago. Activists are rallying against the rising cost of living and housing and are calling for the reinstatement of the welfare state.
Israeli Protesters take part in a demonstration in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on July 15, 2012, in solidarity with Moshe Silman who set himself on fire during the social justice demonstration the day before (AFP Photo / David Buimovitch)
An Israeli Protester with a bandaged face holds a slogan which reads in Hebrew " Bibi (referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) you burned me too" during a demonstration in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on July 15, 2012, in solidarity with Moshe Silman who set himself on fire during the social justice demonstration the day before (AFP Photo / David Buimovitch)
Demonstrators block traffic on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv July 15, 2012, during a protest against the economic policies of Israel's conservative government and to show solidarity with Moshe Silman, who sustained serious burns after he poured flammable liquid on himself and lit it at another protest on Saturday (Reuters / Amir Cohen)— www.shafaqna.com/english/