Two Israelis tried to set fire to themselves in separate incidents Monday, police said. This brings to four the number of attempted self-immolations within the last two weeks.
One man in his 40s poured flammable liquid over himself in the town hall of the southern town of Netivot around noon (0900 GMT), while earlier in the day a man in his 50s did so outside a police station in nearby Ofakim, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
In both cases, municipality staff and police overpowered the two, preventing them from lighting the liquid. Both men were driven to the act by financial problems, police said.
Netivot and Ofakim are located east of Beersheba, Israel’s largest city in the Negev desert, near the Gaza Strip.
The man from Ofakim was sent to a Beersheba hospital for a check-up, while the Netivot resident was being questioned at a local police station.
On Sunday, a disabled Israeli army veteran set himself on fire at a bus stop in Yehud, near Tel Aviv.
Wheelchair-bound Akiva Mafa’i was hospitalised in a severe condition with burns to around 80 per cent of his body, after pouring gasoline over himself and lighting it over a dispute with the authorities about financial assistance.
Ten days earlier, a first protester, Moshe Silman, had set himself on fire at a Tel Aviv demonstration over the exorbitant cost of housing and living in Israel. Silman, who had been denied state-funded housing and was about to be evicted from his home, died of his injuries on Friday and was buried on Sunday with hundreds of sympathisers attending his funeral.
His desperate protest act has triggered strong emotions in Israel. Some activists have called him a symbol, while others have criticised it as violent and a dangerous precedent.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of a “great personal tragedy.”
In addition to the two acts of self-immolation and Monday’s two thwarted attempts, around five other Israelis have threatened to follow Silman’s example.
They include a man in the southern port of Ashdod who declared outside the local Social Security office Monday that he would set himself on fire.
He did not follow up and was sent home after police officers arrived en masse at the scene, Rosenfeld said.
The incidents are likely to increase pressure on Netanyahu to implement reforms recommended by a committee he set up after a wave of mass protests in Israel a year ago.
Among other things, the protesters are demanding more affordable housing.