Police suspect that Lt. Col. (res. ) Boaz Harpaz, formerly an officer in the elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit, is tied to the forging of the so-called Galant document that promoted a candidate to become Israel's next chief of staff.

Harpaz left Military Intelligence six years ago and has made a living as a security consultant.

With links to the top Israeli security and military officials, he also appears to be connected to figures in the General Staff.

Harpaz is not in Israel at the moment, but the police have issued a warrant for his arrest and have ordered him to return home.

Attempts to get Harpaz to comment on the suspicions have failed. The Web site Ynet quoted a conversation between Harpaz and Yossi Yehoshua of Yedioth Ahronoth in which he denied drafting the document but said he had seen it.

"I saw the document but I did not forge or disseminate it. They are looking for a scapegoat," he said.

The police, meanwhile, also suspect that other reserve officers, including people ranked higher than Harpaz, helped draft the document and get it to Israeli generals, including the office of the chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi.

Haaretz also learned yesterday that the police are investigating whether one of the initial channels through which Harpaz allegedly disseminated the document was through an aide to Ashkenazi, Erez Weiner.

The colonel was apparently one of the first to receive a copy. Weiner did not know that the document was a forgery and is not suspected of wrongdoing.

Harpaz served in an elite intelligence post; at the time he was considered close to Major General (res. ) Amos Malka, who served as head of Military Intelligence from 1998 to 2001.

Harpaz is considered a gifted officer, and a former MI chief, Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, had considered promoting him to colonel.

Seven years ago Harpaz was forced to retire after a major foul-up. A military source familiar with the case said it involved a serious leak of intelligence that had operational implications that could have cost lives and harmed national security.

Among the suspicions in the case was the removal of computers containing classified intelligence without authorization by MI. Harpaz was later alleged to have tried to cover up the mistake.

Attorney Hadas Lis, representing Harpaz, said last night her client had given testimony to police and he had gone abroad with their consent. She insisted that her client has nothing to do with the forgery of the document.