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Unprecedented event during social protest in Tel Aviv: A Haifa resident in his 40s set himself on fire on Saturday during a march for social justice on Tel Aviv's Kaplan street and was rushed to the Souraski Medical Center suffering from third degree burns on 80% of his body.
Eye witnesses said that the man read out a letter before pouring flammable liquid over himself and setting himself on fire. He left copies of the letter scattered on the ground.
"The State of Israel robbed me and left me with nothing," he wrote.
"I blame Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Yuval Steinitz for the constant humiliation the citizens of Israel have to endure on a day-to-day basis. They take from the poor and give to the rich. "
In his letter the man complained about legal proceedings he was forced to undergo. "You can't even get rent support, two Housing Ministry committees rejected me despite the fact I had a stroke and.
"I can't afford medication or rent. I paid millions in tax, I served in the army and in the reserves until I was 46. I won't be homeless and that is why I am protesting against all the wrongs the state imposes on people like me."
The man identified himself in the letter stating his name, address and ID number.
"We saw him leaving a house entrance holding a burning object in one hand and a can with flammable liquid on the other," an eye witness told Ynet. "He started pouring the stuff over himself and immediately set himself on fire, everyone poured water over him."
The man's friends said that they had feared he would set himself on fire after he had made several threats claiming he was going to do so. "He didn’t agree to be homeless."
His friends further said that the man had suffered from a stroke that had left him disabled. He tried to receive public housing from the State but was not granted the benefit despite his disability. "The state would not assist him with anything," they said.
Some 10,000 protesters marched from Habima Square towards the government compound on Kaplan street to mark one year since the first tent was erected in Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard.
"Today we are marking a one year anniversary to the civil awakening, to our taking of the streets and the profound understanding that we have stood by too long while our future was being sold away," protest leader Daphni Leef said
Meanwhile, dozens marched along Tel Aviv's promenade as part of a separate protest. The demonstrators are carrying signs which read "The answer for rent – revolution" and chanting "The people demand social justice."
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