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'Humiliated' former Israeli soldier sets himself alight outside defence ministry offices

Itzik Saidian had complained of his dealings with Israel's defence ministry [Facebook]

Date of publication: 11 April, 2021

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Itzik Saidian had complained at a lack of care from Israel's defence ministry after his departure from the army.


A disabled former Israeli soldier set himself alight on Monday evening in front of the Israeli defence ministry's rehabilitation offices, according to reports.

Israel's defence ministry said on Monday that the 26-year-old former veteran - identified by media as Itzik Saidian - was taken to the Sheba Medical Center with extensive burns after self-immolating outside the offices in Petah Tikva.

Saidian, who had fought in Israel's brutal 2014 war in Gaza, is known to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Speaking to Israel's Channel 12 News nearly 18 months ago, Saidian complained about his lack of life prospects after leaving the Israeli army.

"Most of the people my age are not where I am. Not in terms of the psychological and the economic aspects. I feel the differences," he said at the time.

"I lost seven of my friends in three hours after the beginning of the fighting [in Gaza] and continued to fight for another two and half weeks."

Saidian was referring to his experiences in the 2014 Gaza war with Hamas, which left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, most of them civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

Saidian said that during the campaign his unit was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing seven Golani troops.

"You have half an hour to describe what you have been through in the last five years. If you want attention you pay a lawyer tens of thousands of shekels," Saidian added, referring to his experiences with the Israeli defence ministry.

After leaving the army, Saidian struggled by on a small monthly allowance provided by the army due to his disability, according to Haaretz.

When seeking employment, he was reportedly told that a rise in income would affect his disability benefit.

Monday's incident caught nationwide attention in Israel, prompting responses from Israel's president and prime minister.

In a cabinet meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that many Israeli soldiers suffer similar trauma to Saidian and pledged to reform processes for disabled and wounded soldiers.

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