update deskIsrael News

Rehovot teacher arrested for alleged assault on Israeli minister

The suspect allegedly knocked Idit Silman's phone to the ground and slapped her.

Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman at her office in Jerusalem, Jan. 2, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman at her office in Jerusalem, Jan. 2, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Police in the central Israeli city of Rehovot arrested a suspect on Wednesday accused of threatening and assaulting Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman.

The suspect, Yarden Mann, 52, a teacher and resident of the city, knocked Silman’s phone to the ground and slapped her, according to the Israel Police.

The Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court ordered Mann held in remand for at least a day. Mann denies all charges.

Local media identified Mann as an activist against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s now-shelved judicial reform plans. In March 2023, she reportedly signed an open letter calling on Germany and the United Kingdom to cancel upcoming visits by the Israeli premier.

A former coalition whip for Naftali Bennett’s Yamina Party, Idit Silman announced her shock resignation from the Bennett-Lapid government in April 2022, contributing to its collapse several months later.

At the time, then-Prime Minister Bennett blamed Silman’s resignation and her subsequent defection to the political camp of then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on “verbal violence” from opponents of his coalition.

Officials in Netanyahu’s Likud Party said Silman’s move was the result of their efforts, and the 43-year-old politician was offered the 16th position on the party’s Knesset candidates list ahead of the November 2022 election.

During her tenure as coalition chairwoman, Silman claimed she was physically attacked at a gas station in October 2021. “A man grabbed me after I refueled at a gas station in Modi’in and physically pushed me against the car,” she said, while acknowledging there were no eyewitnesses.

Silman’s account was widely disputed, leading lawmakers to issue a request to law enforcement to have the incident investigated. The police probe was closed after two months due to a lack of evidence.

Since joining Likud in 2022, Silman has become a target of constant intimidation by opponents of Netanyahu’s government, including at speaking engagements and at her home in Rehovot.

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