Some 2,000 people took part in a demonstration march in Tel Aviv Sunday evening to express solidarity with Moshe Silman, who set fire to himself during a social justice protest on Saturday. Smaller solidarity demonstrations were also held in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.
Silman’s is currently unconscious in Tel Aviv’s Sheba hospital suffering from third degree burns to 90 per cent of his body. The 57-year-old Haifa man set himself on fire after reading aloud and distributing a suicide note. He had lost his business and property due to unpaid fines he owed to the National Insurance Institute, and had also suffered a stroke.
During yesterday’s demonstrations, protesters blocked main roads, including the Ayalon highway, and hurled eggs at the National Insurance Institute office building, while chanting, “We are all Moshe Silman.” Police stood by observing and let the demonstration take its course. As protests died down, anonymous vandals tried to torch the entrance of the National Insurance Institute building in Ramat Gan, causing damage to the doorway. They also spray painted graffiti reading “Price tag for Moshe Silman” on the edifice. Police opened an investigation, but so far no arrests have been made.
The Saturday night demonstrations, which drew approximately 8,000 people in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, were to mark the first anniversary of mass protests against the spiralling cost of living.
The protest movement began last summer, with activists seeking reforms that would make food, housing and education more affordable. But many feel that government promises to enact economic reforms have not been kept.