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Thousands of people hold solidarity rally for man who set himself on fire as protest

Social justice activists block Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv. Demonstrations also staged in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beershaba. 'Silman was not crazy, he's like you and me,' says activist-
Some 2,000 people demonstrated Sunday night in front of the government offices in Tel Aviv in protest of the public housing situation in Israel. The activists blocked Ayalon Highway and several other streets in Tel Aviv. Earlier, the demonstrators read aloud the letter left behind by Moshe Silman, who set himself on fire during the social justice protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday. They also yelled "Bibi and Steinitz go home."

Silman, who suffered burns on over 90% of his body, is still hospitalized in critical condition at Sheeba Medical Center. His relatives said Sunday night that he suffers from organ failure and doctors said his chances of survival are slim.

"Moshe isn't crazy, he's just like you and me," said social activist Iliya Mershek, adding that he visited Silman in the hospital but was too afraid to enter the room. "He is in critical condition. I couldn't go into the room, I admit I'm a coward. I would never be able to do what he did. His sisters say he did it for all of us. They cried while telling us why he had to be the victim of this struggle."

Many drivers on Ayalon Highway waited patiently for the demonstrators to move out of the way. Some honked in sign of support. Driver Inbar Paz stepped out of her vehicle and took photos of the event. "I hope this helps. There are protests all the time, and nothing ever happens," she said.

Protests were also held in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba. Five protesters were arrested in Jeruslem, while trying to block King George street.

Jerusalem resident Yael Shelem said she came to the rally "out of solidarity." People who set themselves on fire are not committing suicide, but are shouting out of despair and pain after the government has abandoned them. But even in this protest they won't give us the right to shout," she said adding that the police have been using too much force on the protesters.

"People went out on the street because they are enraged, angry and sad because of what happened yesterday. We are screaming against the government's failure, which we hold responsible to the events that led Moshe Silman to set himself on fire," said activist Michael Solsbery.

"People don’t reach this level of despair over nothing. This despair has an address and it belongs to the government, who failed to provide housing solutions and who abandons people in Silman's condition," he added.

In Haifa, some 100 people gathered in support of Silman, who was a social justice activist in the city. The protesters waived signs reading "This is not a personal tragedy, but an evil policy" and "the entire nation is Moshe Silman."

Haifa resident Yossi Baruch said that the crowd did not gather in order to "sanctify blood or death, but rather to express soidaity with the human suffering. Silman's distress was personal, but it is shared by millions of Israelis. He is not an isolated case. He said he was going to do something that will shake up this country.",7340,L-4255849,00.html

Added: Jul-16-2012 Occurred On: Jul-16-2012
By: aydeo
Other News, Other Middle East
Tags: Solidarity rally, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Silman
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