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16 Jul, 2012 09:54

Thousands rally in support of self-immolated Israeli activist (VIDEO)

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.