barak ashkenazi - Tal Cohen - November 1 2010
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, November 2010. Photo by Tal Cohen
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A book scheduled for release in Israel this week claims that outgoing Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi used Lt. Col. (res. ) Boaz Harpaz as a spy in the office of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Harpaz is expected to be charged with forging a document that was at the center of an alleged scheme last year to sabotage the appointment of Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant to succeed Ashkenazi.

In their book, journalists Dan Margalit and Ronen Bergman contend that Ashkenazi protected Harpaz even when the latter committed serious security breaches. The authors claim that Ashkenazi was not truthful in his statements to a committee examining Harpaz's security clearance in 2005. After Harpaz's security clearance level was raised, he received access to military secrets and sensitive facilities and caused serious damage to national security.

Harpaz remained close to Ashkenazi and his wife even after senior Mossad and Military Intelligence officials warned that he represented a major security risk.

In "Habor," Margalit and Bergman argue that while Ashkenazi said he received the infamous document in late April of last year, the version of the document that was leaked to and reported by Channel 2 television news could not have been created prior to May 7. That raises the question of whether Ashkenazi saw an earlier version of the document.

The authors also question why Ashkenazi delayed a police probe into the matter by failing to report, immediately after the Channel 2 story was aired, the fact that the document was in his hands.

They claim that Harpaz's conduct endangered lives and forced the intelligence community to take extreme measures that affected operations critical to national security.

In addition, they say investigators are hampered by the withholding of information by intelligence officials that could shed light on the relationship between Harpaz and senior IDF officers.