IDF veteran who self-immolated thanks hospital staff in first public appearance

IDF vet who set himself on fire in April 2021 praises Sheba Medical Center for saving his life.

By World Israel News Staff

An IDF veteran suffering from PTSD who self-immolated last year as an act of protest made his first public appearance since the incident on Sunday evening, speaking at an event for Sheba Medical Center.

Itzik Saidian set himself on fire in front of a Defense Ministry office in April 2021 after the institution refused to recognize him as being a disabled veteran and would not grant him the appropriate support.

He was hospitalized with severe burns and kept in an induced coma at Sheba for several months, with very little being released publicly about his condition during the past year.

Saidian spoke at a gala event for the hospital on Sunday, praising the burn unit staff for nursing him back to health and crediting them with saving his life.

“I am certainly living proof that innovation saves lives,” he said, expressing gratitude for the “warm treatment I received from all the dedicated and professional doctors and nurses, who gave their soul day and night.”

Saidian added that he aims to dedicate his life to ensuring that the voices of wounded IDF veterans are heard. “I will continue to stand behind them, always,” he said.

After fighting in the Battle of Shujaya in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge war, Saidian suffered from debilitating PTSD, which left him unable to work.

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He filed for financial support from the Defense Ministry, but the institution claimed that Saidian’s trauma mostly stemmed from his parents’ divorce, which occured when he was a child, and therefore only granted him partial aid.

Saidian battled with the institution for years, filing appeals and speaking out multiple times in media interviews about his debilitating mental health and suicidal urges, but to no avail.

Eventually, he self-immolated in front of the ministry’s office in Petah Tikvah.

Saidian’s story sparked widespread outrage throughout Israel.

Policies easing the granting of disability rights to combat veterans, including streamlined access to subsidized housing, have been rolled out since the incident.