A draft of a State Comptroller report released Sunday afternoon harshly criticized former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi for his conduct in the so-called Harpaz Affair.

In the draft, which was released to the people most closely invovled in the affair, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss criticizes former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi over alleged links to a document forged by Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz in order to derail the candidacy of Yoav Galant as the next IDF Chief of Staff.

Galant was eventually disqualified as a candidate over unrelated allegations that he had improperly used public lands near his home, and the current military chief, Benny Gantz, was appointed instead.The final report on the affair is expected to be issued several months after the draft report is circulated and the comments by the draft's recipients are considered.

The Harpaz case burst into public view in August 2010 after Channel 2 reported the existence of a document that on the face of it appeared to be a plan to undermine the standing of the IDF chief of staff at the time, Gabi Ashkenazi and promote Galant's candidacy to succeed him. In the course of an expedited investigation of the document, Harpaz initially admitted to forging the document in an apparent bid to scuttle Galant's chances. But Harpaz has since presented conflicting accounts on the matter, including a denial that he forged the plan.

Lindenstrauss' probe of the affair has included interviews with about 350 people and the draft report has taken a year and four months to complete. Apparently at the center of the investigation is Harpaz's relationship with those around Ashkenazi, particularly Ashkenazi himself and his aide, Col. Erez Weiner.

The investigation also looked into the bad blood in relations between Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the disqualification of Galant and the appointment of Gantz.

In recent months, Lindenstrauss has expressed shock at what he and his staff have uncovered. According to various assessments, Ashkenazi is expected to be the party who is hurt the most by the report, although he is not suspected of forging the document. Barak and his staff are also likely to come in for criticism, but the connection among Ashkenazi, Weiner and Harpaz is expected to be particularly detrimental to Ashkenazi.

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