Photo: Israelis demonstrate over the poor treatment of veterans suffering from PTSD, who they call the “faceless casualties.”
An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) veteran remains in critical condition after setting himself on fire Monday outside a Defense Ministry office that handles rehabilitation issues.
Itzik Saidyan, 26, fought in the 2014 Gaza war known as “Operation Protective Edge,” and has never been the same. A veteran of the Golani Infantry Brigade, Saidyan and his unit were sent to the Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja’iyya, which saw some of the deadliest fighting of the war. Within hours of their deployment, Saidyan recalled no fewer than seven of his brothers-in-arms being killed before his eyes. He then spent another two-and-a-half weeks on the frontlines.
After the war, he was diagnosed with PTSD, but was only rated at 25 percent disability, despite requesting 50 percent. Family and friends said that ministry officials treated Saidyan as if he was trying to cheat the system, but confirmed that he had tremendous difficulty functioning in everyday life.
On Monday, Saidyan finally snapped and set himself alight at the entrance to the Rehabilitation Department’s offices in the central Israel town of Petah Tikva. He suffered burns over his entire body and was rushed to Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital in critical condition.
On Tuesday morning, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi visited the hospital and was seen tightly embracing Saidyan’s weeping mother.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) April 13, 2021
Earlier in the day, Kochavi stated:
“Among our soldiers and our reservists there are those whose injuries cannot be seen and they carry in their hearts the scars of battle for many years. The IDF and the people of Israel owe a great debt to those who endanger their lives and their minds for the sake of protecting the country, and we must do everything to fight for them.”
President Reuven Rivlin tweeted in response to the shocking incident:
“Among our sons and daughters who returned from combat there are many who are still fighting. We see you. We hurt with you when you restlessly return to the battlefields of life. To Itzik and all our children who are fighting we owe the establishment of the state. We are responsible for their fate.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that if he is able to form a stable government, he will make it a priority to “reform the way we deal with disabled IDF veterans and their injuries.”
Netanyahu, himself a former commando who saw his fair share of combat, added: “Regrettably, I know that Saidyan is not the only one among our fighters who has such scars.”