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Former Israeli soldier sets self on fire, commits suicide

Bar Kalaf, a former Israeli soldier who committed suicide after the ministry of military affairs rejected his request for disability status.

A young Israeli man who formerly served as a soldier of the regime has died after he set himself on fire earlier this week as his request for disability status was rejected.

On Thursday, Bar Kalaf, who served in the Israeli military from 2008-2011 and was present in the 2014 war on the Gaza Strip as a reservist, succumbed to injuries he sustained when he set himself alight last Tuesday.

Kalaf, 33, committed suicide after the ministry of military affairs rejected his request for disability status.

According to his family, Kalaf had asked to be recognized as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to his military service.

His mother Kochava told Channel 13 News that her son "felt hopeless due to being unable to get help," and that a medical committee handling his request did not examine his condition thoroughly.

"You can't take an 18-year-old boy for three years and think nothing will go wrong, that no mental health issues will develop. After [those three years in the Israeli military], he'll have to deal with life," she said.

The ministry of military affairs said Kalaf's request was rejected as the medical practitioners treating him did not diagnose him with PTSD, rather with a different mental illness that was considered unrelated to his military service.

Late last year, a report revealed suicide cases among Israeli military personnel continued to increase at an alarming rate.

According to a report published in December by the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, 14 Israeli soldiers had taken their own lives since the beginning of the 2022, and the number marked a dramatic rise within the last five years. The Israeli military recorded a total of 11 suicides for the whole of 2021 and nine cases in 2020.

Official data from the Information and Research Center of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) show the regime registers 500 suicides each year, 100 of which are among young people in the 15-24 age bracket.

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