Coalition whip files complaint with Knesset security over threats, assault

Bennett backs up MK Idit Silman over harassment she has faced, but makes no mention of alleged physical attack at gas station

MK Idit Silman, the coalition chair, pictured with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during voting in the Knesset on the state budget, November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Idit Silman, the coalition chair, pictured with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during voting in the Knesset on the state budget, November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Coalition whip MK Idit Silman filed a formal complaint with the Knesset Guard on Sunday, after she said she was physically attacked by a man at a gas station amid a scathing, months-long online campaign against for joining the new government that ousted Benjamin Netanyahu.

Silman later filed a formal notification with the Knesset Guard of the threats made against her on various occasions since September 25 and throughout October in the build-up to a vote on passing the state budget, which was held last Thursday. The material included screenshots of messages that were sent to her, the Ynet news site reported.

Silman also met the head of the Knesset Guard regarding the gas station incident, which she said occurred in the city of Modiin in early October, Channel 12 reported.

The Knesset said in a statement that the complaint will on Monday be given to the deputy head of the Knesset Guard “for further clarification and a check by Israel Police.”

Silman received support from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who tweeted that in recent months, and in particular ahead of the budget vote, Silman and her family faced “extremely severe pressure, slander, and attacks that few elected officials have experienced.”

Bennett made no specific reference to the gas station incident.

The lawmaker had brought up the attack during an interview the night before with Channel 12, in which she talked of the threats and intimidation her family has faced.

Critics noted that Silman did not go into detail about the gas station incident and doubted her account, saying she should file an official complaint if it is true.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, right, and MK Idit Silman attend the vote on the state budget at the assembly hall of the Knesset, in Jerusalem on November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Following her meeting with the Knesset Guard, Silman posted on Facebook, pushing back against the uproar over the details of her claims, writing sarcastically, “Because what is disturbing is not the fact that I am being followed and my children are getting death wishes, but rather the exact resolution of the harassment and threats.”

Silman wrote that during her meeting with Knesset security, she provided details of the gas station encounter that, during the busy days in preparation for passing the budget, “were given orally and soon after the incident, but formal reports on some of them and in writing to the Knesset Guard were delayed.”

She noted that there was “more than one complaint” that she brought to the Knesset Guard.

On Saturday night, Silman told Channel 12, “A man grabbed me after I refueled at a gas station in Modiin and physically pushed me against the car.”

Lawmakers for the opposition Shas party have written to the Knesset Guard, urging a probe into the incident and additional security for her if it is accurate. The move was seen by many as an attempt to embarrass Silman, in case no CCTV footage or other evidence of the attack is found.

Silman, of Bennett’s Yamina party, faced protests and threats earlier this year when her faction teamed up with a disparate coalition of parties to form the unity government that toppled Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 consecutive years in power. Netanyahu’s Likud and allied factions accused Yamina of betraying the right in joining a coalition that includes other right-wing, centrist, and left-wing parties, plus an Islamist faction.

In June, as the final details of the coalition agreement that ousted Netanyahu were being negotiated, Silman claimed that she had been followed by another vehicle while driving in her car.

At the time, Bennett and Yamina No.2 Ayelet Shaked, who is the interior minister, both received increased security following threats.

Meretz member Tamar Zandberg, the environment protection minister, was forced to flee her home at one point due to threats made against her and her daughter.

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