Reuters – August 1, 2012
Akiva Mafi, a 45-year-old, wheelchair-bound war veteran, doused his body in petrol and lit it at a bus station on July 30, after what friends described as a debilitating battle for welfare benefits.
He was the second such fatality after Moshe Silman, a debt-ridden member of a grassroots movement to lower the cost of living in Israel, self-immolated during a July 14 demonstration in Tel Aviv and died two weeks later.
Silman, 57, left a note accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative government of “taking from the poor and giving to the rich”. Local media later reported similar suicide bids among others suffering economic hardship.
Speaking on Israeli television after his cabinet approved a controversial new package of tax increases and spending cuts on Tuesday, Netanyahu described the self-immolations as tragic but cautioned against “drawing conclusions about the overall populace,” which he argued had been spared deeper fiscal crises.
(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Mohammad Zargham)