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'Rejected' Israeli sets himself on fire at Tel Aviv rally

By Donald MacIntyre

A 57-year-old Israeli man was in a critical condition yesterday after setting fire to himself during a demonstration by more than 8,000 people marking the anniversary of last summer's widespread protests in support of social and economic justice.

Moshe Silman, a former small businessman who has since fallen on dire financial circumstances, was said to have second- and third-degree burns on more than 90pc of his body after dousing his clothes with petrol and starting to immolate himself.

Mr Silman, who in a note he had written earlier blamed the Israeli government for having "robbed me", was shown in harrowing TV footage on fire at the rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night while demonstrators tried to put out the flames.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a "great and personal tragedy" and asked the welfare and housing ministers to probe Mr Silman's complaints of serial rejection by state agencies and the courts.

In his note, which was later read out by protesters, Mr Silman said: "The state of Israel has stolen from me and robbed me, left me with nothing. Two committees from the Ministry of Housing have rejected me, despite the fact that I have undergone a stroke and was granted 100pc work disability."

The otherwise peaceful Tel Aviv rally was the biggest of several in Israel on Saturday, the anniversary of the start of last summer's social demonstrations when young people pitched a protest tent in the city's Rothschild Boulevard to demand more affordable housing.

(© Independent News Service)

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