Police raid Arad office in wake of Galant PR affair
A judge issued a warrant on behalf of the police last night ordering Channel 2 to hand over the Galant document. The Channel 2 News company is planning to appeal the decision.
After two stormy days for politicians and military figures alike, the handling of the Galant document moved yesterday to the police. The police's International Fraud Squad began a probe into the case, under the guidance of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. One of the investigators' first stops was at the offices of strategist Eyal Arad, where they collected evidence.
News of the Galant document broke with Channel 2 on Friday, and it allegedly describes a plan for advancing GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant to the post of the next chief of staff by smearing his rivals and intentionally exacerbating the already tense relations between current Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Both Maj. Gen. Galant and Arad deny any connection to the document, and Arad even filed a complaint with police for forgery.
The Channel 2 News company will try to prevent the document's release to police, arguing that the immunity enjoyed by the press surpasses all other interests.
Earlier yesterday police investigators asked the company's CEO, Avi Weiss, and the company's attorney, Barak Bar-Shalom, to hand over the document that was exposed by senior political analyst Amnon Abramovich.
At this stage it remains unclear whether officers questioned by police in connection with the affair will be summoned to police premises or will host the police in their offices.
The IDF spokesman, Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, told Army Radio yesterday that he believes that officers will be questioned in connection with the affair, but "I refuse to accept the headlines I saw in one of the papers, 'General Staff under investigation.' I think most of those who will be questioned will not be IDF generals. I do not think the generals are going to march [into the interrogation]. I assume that some military people will be asked in for questioning and the Chief of Staff issued an announcement yesterday [Sunday] that we are being asked for questioning and will cooperate."
Benayahu added that if the police request it, "every IDF officer will undergo a lie-detector test. Whatever is required we will do."
The IDF spokesman said that "none of the candidates [for the post of chief of staff] will accept an appointment under such circumstances."
"We have no option but to complete this investigation quickly, and hope that they will find the truth and the person behind it," Benayahu said.
In a series of interviews to the media, Benayahu admitted that there was tension between the chief of staff and Defense Minister Barak. "I cannot deny this," he said.
He also acknowledged tensions between Galant and Ashkenazi, but said that despite tensions that are commonplace at the General Staff, work continues normally. "I hope the tension between the chief of staff and the minister is temporary and will pass. It does not undermine their work and the two meet and make decisions," Benayahu said.
This is the first time a senior IDF officer has admitted in public that tension exists between Barak and Ashkenazi. Benayahu also acknowledged that news of the affair is currently the main subject of conversation in all levels of the military.
Meanwhile, police investigators met with Yuval Arad, a manager at Arad Media, who apparently gave his testimony on the matter. Arad refused to comment to the media, but said yesterday that "Arad media announced, on its own initiative, that it will make the office resources available to the police for its investigation following the complaint filed by Eyal Arad."
Police also refused yesterday to comment on when they expect to conclude the investigation, but said that at this stage their probe is focused only on the complaint filed by Eyal Arad about the forgery of the company's logo and its use in the document. As far as the police and Attorney General Weinstein are concerned, only after the initial complaint is cleared will it be possible to investigate other aspects of the case.