By Soroor Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
Another Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) veteran––this time a physically challenged one––self-immolated himself on Sunday afternoon in town of Yehud, 15 km from capital Tel Aviv. This is the sixth such case in last eight days in the country yet the international media grossly underplayed them.
The victim of Sunday’s self-immolation, an ex-soldier on wheel chair, sustained 80 per cent burns. The incident follows the death of IDF veteran Moshe Silman, on Friday last. In fact Silman self-immolated himself on July 14 last but succumbed to injuries on July 20. His self-immolation sparked a series of similar protests in Israel.
Reports from Tel Aviv said people at a bus stop near the central city of Yehud saw a man in a wheel-chair taking out a bottle and soaking himself with its contents.
“I immediately understood that it was gasoline and not water,” Mahmoud Gdir, an eyewitness, was quoted by AFP. “I saw him holding a lighter and pleaded with him not to do it, but he did. I ran to my car to get a small fire extinguisher. It lasted about 2-10 seconds.”
The Disabled IDF Veterans’ Association says financial woes compelled him to take the extreme step.
“The bodies that are supposed to support him, that is, the Defense Ministry and National Insurance Institute have failed him,” the organization’s spokesman was quoted by Ynet News. “I’m afraid over 50,000 IDF veterans share his frustration.”
The latest self-immolation took place hours before the funeral of Moshe Silman, an IDF veteran who died on Friday of injuries he received during a massive demonstration staged the previous week. Silman set himself on fire and suffered third-degree burns to over 95 per cent of his body.
In a letter, which 57-year old Silman read out, before setting himself alight, he accused the Israeli establishment of “taking from the poor and giving to the rich.” He also said that despite being incapable of working due to a stroke, a housing ministry committee did not find him eligible for public housing benefits.
Since then, at least five more self-immolation cases have been reported in Israel, with Sunday’s incident being the most serious.
Silman self-immolated on July 14 during a demonstration held to mark the first anniversary of protests against social injustice and high cost of living that swept Israel last summer.
Before the funeral, Silman’s family called on others not to imitate his desperate act.
“What he did was grim and the family does not condone it––he was expressing his own unmet pain,” the Silmans said in a letter. “We urge the government to consider this horrifying case and do everything within its power to help Israelis who are in need of (financial) assistance.”
A few days ago demonstrators attacked and set on fire the office of the National Insurance Institute in Tel Aviv. The institute is blamed for Silman’s financial troubles and his self-immolation.
Meanwhile, Ralph Schoenman, American political analyst and author, in an interview to PressTV of Iran, said that the protests against social injustice in Israel show the population is under siege by the Tel Aviv regime.
“They (protests) mark the extent to which the population in Israel is finding itself under siege by their own [regime],” said Ralph Schoenman, author of the Hidden History of Zionism.
He added that the Israelis are “taking to the streets in a generalized movement of protests against the rising cost of living; the cuts in social programmes and benefits; and the control of economic life in Israel by a tiny oligarchy of the rich, which has galvanized resistance throughout its very society.”
Schoenman made the comments on Saturday a day after Moshe Silman died of burns and a day before the Sunday’s self immolation by another war veteran.
“With respect to the fate of Moshe Silman, he had been a regular participant of this protest movement that began last year over the rising cost of living and the cuts in social programs,” the political analyst stated.
“And it should be noted that when his small business had not succeeded, he was in a dispute with the National Insurance Institute and his trucks were seized to pay off his debts and his bank accounts and the home that his mother had left him was seized as well,” he added.
(Soroor Ahmed is the author of The Jewish Obsession and is an authority on Middle East affairs. He can be reached at email@example.com)