Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to announce in the coming weeks his decision regarding the indictment against Lt. Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, who admitted to fabricating a document relating to the process for choosing the IDF chief of staff.
About a month ago the State Prosecution held a hearing for the defense attorneys of Harpaz, and the prosecution is leaning toward indicting Harpaz alone for forgery. Notwithstanding his admission during questioning by police, Harpaz may opt for a legal battle and recant his admission.
The Harpaz affair remains on the agenda of various forums, most of them far from the public eye. Along with the expected indictment, a preliminary probe is being undertaken by police and the Shin Bet security service in other aspects of the affair concerning the various financial dealings in which Harpaz was involved with the defense establishment.
On this matter there has yet to be a decision on whether to begin a criminal investigation, but a decision is expected in the near future. The hearing for Harpaz concentrated only on the forgery and not on any other suspicions stemming from the affair, which have not yet been investigated.
The Harpaz affair broke in August last year, when Channel 2 revealed the existence of a document, which was initially dubbed the “Galant Document,” after one of the leading IDF generals in the race for the post of chief of staff. The document appeared to be a plan for managing the campaign for the post and aiming to achieve the appointment of Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, undermine the chief of staff at the time, Gabi Ashkenazi, and to detract from other candidates.
During the police investigation it emerged that Galant was not linked to the document and that Harpaz, with links to Ashkenazi, had forged it. Ashkenazi had a copy of the document, which somehow made it from his office to Channel 2, but denied knowing that the document was forged. The police and the prosecution accepted his claim and announced at an early stage of the investigation that senior officers on active duty had not been involved in any violation.
A key question raised in the investigation was whether Harpaz had acted alone. The police and the prosecution found that difficult to believe. A great deal of effort was invested in this matter. Along with a team of investigators, then-Police Commissioner David Cohen appointed his deputy, Ilan Franco, to supervise the team from the outside and raise issues which, in his view, were not dealt with sufficiently during the investigation. From Day One the investigators were in contact with the State Attorney’s office.
Harpaz described his activity in the affair as part of a team of sorts, which worked on behalf of Ashkenazi and against Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Among the things Harpaz claimed was that journalists and retired officers urged him to collect material on the activities of Barak and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren.
Harpaz explained his interference in the matter as stemming from his wish to put an end to Barak’s attacks against Ashkenazi, and by extension, by trying to help the former chief of staff extend his tenure into a fifth year.
However, Harpaz insisted that the forgery was done on his own without any instructions or support from others. The information that he included in the document, he said, he drew from talks with journalists and officers.
To date the police and the prosecution have not been able to find any evidence of conspiracy or of any involvement of other suspects in the matter. In one of the court deliberations, Harpaz’s defense attorneys said that their client recanted. However, during his subsequent investigation Harpaz was asked by police on the matter, and said that his admission still stands.
One of the claims raised by Defense Minister Barak and his aides was that with the approval of Ashkenazi a putch had been attempted that aimed at removing Barak as a public figure and foiling the appointment of Galant as chief of staff. The police investigation has nearly not touched on this claim and no evidence has been found to justify a criminal investigation in this direction − even thought the issue will be examined in greater depth by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, whose mandate to investigate is much broader.
If and when the investigation material is released for publication, during the court deliberations it will emerge that many people have be en involved in this affair, including senior figures in the IDF. It is unlikely that many will feel particularly proud about their conduct during the police interviews.
Senior generals offered partial testimonies, all the while trying to extract from the investigators information about what the police knew, before giving their full version of events.
In some cases the officers gave information only when they were called for a second time to provide testimony in a sort of “rolling version” of events.
Ashkenazi informed the prosecution that he had a copy of the document only on August 6, two days after the news broke on Channel 2. He gave the document to investigators only on August 9, while the police had asked the courts to order the media to give them the document.
When the police asked Ashkenazi where he got the document from he said “from some guy,” and diverted them to his aide, Colonel Erez Wiener. It was Wiener who told police about Harpaz, even though Ashkenazi and Harpaz knew each other for long.
A large group of senior General Staff officers, including generals who competed against Galant for the post of chief of staff, developed in recent months an alternative theory to that presented by the police and the prosecution, in relation to the unfolding of the affair.
According to this version, Harpaz did not forge the document but got it indirectly from sources close to Barak. In other words, these officers believe that the document is authentic and describes a real plan prepared in Barak’s milieu to harm Ashkenazi and advance Galant.
Accordingly, Harpaz does not admit to this in order not to find himself in worse trouble, or cause trouble for others.
The prosecution and the police have not found any evidence supporting this alternative theory. A look into Harpaz’s computer showed that he wrote the document on the computer, but no evidence that would suggest that Harpaz had been able to operate as a “mole” in Barak’s office.
A more extensive investigation is being carried out by the state comptroller. It remains unclear when his report will be ready for release. Based on past experience involving complex affairs, three or even four months passed between the distribution of the draft document and the publication of the final report.
The anticipation for the State Comptroller’s report, Weinstein’s decision on Harpaz and the publication of the material from the police investigation in court, is causing a great deal of tension among those involved, including Defense Minister Barak and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who would like the matter to pass quickly.
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