Police Suspect Aides to IDF Chief Sought to Defame Top Defense Officials

Ashkenazi's staff may have targeted Defense Minister Barak and then-GOC Southern Command Galant.

Police investigating the Galant document affair believe associates of outgoing Israel Defense Forces Chief Gabi Ashkenazi attempted to acquire defamatory material on Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Yoav Galant, the then-GOC Southern Command currently tapped to replace Ashkenazi.

In August and September police summoned dozens of high-ranking military officers in the career and reserve forces for questioning. Among them were Ashkenazi, his deputy Benny Gantz, GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot and additional aides and senior army officers. Ashkenazi's wife and a top-level Mossad official were also questioned.

File photo of then IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Sept. 5, 2010.
File photo of then IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Sept. 5, 2010.Alon Ron

During the probe it emerged that three or four groups within Israel's defense community had links to the affair, and police speculated that the cooperation between them reflected the supervision of a guiding hand.

Police ultimately reached the conclusion that Boaz Harpaz, a lieutenant colonel in the IDF reserves, had forged the Galant document alone. The document purported to show a concerted public-relations campaign to have Galant appointed Ashkenazi's successor.

In time, police learned that Harpaz was a close Ashkenazi associate and had been in continuous contact with the army chief's wife. They also came to believe Harpaz had not only forged the document but also conveyed it to Ashkenazi's office to help him extend his term as chief of staff and delay the appointment of his replacement.

Police came to believe Harpaz forged the document after learning that Ashkenazi's bureau had been searching for defamatory material on Barak and Galant in a bid to tarnish their reputations and make them less able to push for Ashkenazi's replacement.

Police have not found a witness to corroborate the allegations against Ashkenazi's associates. Still, investigators involved in the case said they had been stunned to discover serious failings in information security and organizational norms among the IDF's top brass.

IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi (left), Defense Minister Ehud Barak (center), GOC Southern Command Yoav GalantTomer Appelbaum, Moti Kimche, Alon Ron

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in response, "All of the IDF commanders cooperated fully with investigators and answered all of their questions. As a rule, we cannot respond to anonymous allegations."