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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The criminal, security and public case bearing the name of Lt. Col. (res. ) Boaz Harpaz looms constantly larger. After investigating the affair, involving the document that Harpaz gave to the office of Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi - and was seen as the summary of a meeting between Ashkenazi's rivals, associates of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and supporters of Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant - the police recommended to the prosecution that Harpaz alone be indicted, as the forger of the document. If the police recommendation is accepted, Harpaz will have a hearing and will be given the investigation materials. Pundits will then warn of another wave of reports like those that flooded the country last week.

Meanwhile, the process of Galant's appointment as the next IDF chief of staff, including the matter of the document, is being scrutinized by the State Comptroller's office, in the context of connections between the top brass in the defense establishment and with those who leave the service. Such scrutiny will certainly cast an even deeper pall over the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the intelligence community.

The police investigation exposed an embarrassing depth of connections between Ashkenazi and his wife and Harpaz but, contrary to the allusions by Ashkenazi's opponents, it did not emerge that because of these relationships Ashkenazi had taken an active role in a plot to foil Barak's activities. Harpaz wanted Ashkenazi to like him and to show Ashkenazi that he knows deep secrets about what is happening around Barak. If he had wanted to release the document, he would have given it to the press himself, but then he would have revealed the forgery and the person responsible for it.

The two most serious layers now being peeled away from around the core of the affair are the relations between the defense minister and the chief of staff and the leniency of Military Intelligence, the Shin Bet security service and the General Staff toward negative phenomena and officers who do wrong.

Ashkenazi was only one of many who recommended Harpaz and protected him. In the shadowy world of special operations, in the name of security, improper actions have taken place over the years. Only a naive person would believe that Harpaz is the only or the last one to be involved in such activities.

The Harpaz case requires tighter external oversight by the defense minister of the chief of staff, the intelligence bodies and appointments of officers to senior and sensitive positions. The security establishment and its leaders have proven that they must not be trusted blindly.