It has been 60 hours since Ayala Hasson-Nesher published her scoop on Channel 1, during which time former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his wife Ronit have denied none of it.
They have not denied that Ronit Ashkenazi was involved in collecting and disseminating materials smearing a candidate for chief of staff after Ashkenazi, Yoav Galant. They did not deny that Ronit Ashkenazi tried to enlist a philanthropic contributor to the IDF for a huge real estate project. Neither did they deny that Boaz Harpaz, who has admitted to forging a document meant to discredit Galant, visited their home a number of times.
They did not deny that Gabi Ashkenazi knew that the Harpaz document was going to air on Channel 2 or that after the police launched an investigation a long and suspicious land-line phone call was arranged for Ashkenazi.
They also did not deny that the chief of staff's aide Erez Weiner told Harpaz that the police had questioned both him and Ashkenazi, and that investigators were on their way to Harpaz. Neither did they deny the fact, confirmed by the Justice Ministry, that Ronit Ashkenazi and Harpaz exchanged some 1,500 text messages.
Responses by Lt. Gen. (res. ) Ashkenazi have been general; they have not explained the most serious accusations ever leveled against an Israeli chief of staff.
There is therefore no choice but to suspect that the wife of the former chief of staff was involved in a smear campaign against a general serving under her husband, and that she tried to use her position to promote her family's economic interests.
There is no choice but to suspect that the former chief of staff knew that the document was about to be aired on Channel 2, but did not bother telling his subordinate, whom the broadcast was about to crucify.
There is no choice but to to strongly suspect that the chief of staff was untruthful when he told his senior officers that Harpaz had never been to his home. Ashkenazi was not entirely truthful with the police and may have obstructed the investigation.
The attorney general and the police proved last year that they cannot carry out the required probe. Therefore one possibility is to convene a state committee of inquiry headed by a Supreme Court justice. Another is a new, thorough investigation by the state comptroller.
The Ashkenazi affair gives rise to one main question: Do very senior officers in Israel conspire to force their will on an elected government?
This is no longer about Ronit, Gabi or Boaz. It is about Israel's identity as a democracy.
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