The police team investigating the so-called Harpaz affair has been ordered to finish interrogating all the suspects and witnesses by the end of May.
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The order was given by Maj. Gen. Mani Yitzhaki, head of the police’s investigations and intelligence division.
The most senior figure still slated to be questioned is former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who is expected to be questioned under caution. Ashkenazi will be one of the last people summoned.
Among the first people to be questioned were two of his closest associates, former IDF Spokesman Avi Benayahu and Ashkenazi’s former aide, Col. Erez Weiner. Both men have been questioned several times, both before and after their arrest in March.
The affair began with a forged document aimed at influencing the choice of Ashkenazi’s successor as chief of staff, and was thus named after the alleged forger, Lt. Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz. But it later expanded to allegations that Ashkenazi and his associates, Harpaz among them, tried to dig up dirt about then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak while Ashkenazi was chief of staff. Today, the investigation is focused mainly on suspicions that Ashkenazi’s associates – and perhaps Ashkenazi himself – tried to obstruct the probe into those allegations.
Several past and present Defense Ministry staffers have been questioned as well, one of the more interesting of whom is Bezalel Treiber, the ministry’s deputy director general. Treiber was close to Ashkenazi, and police have been trying to determine whether he aided Ashkenazi’s associates in their alleged effort to dig up dirt, primarily by giving them gossip that could have embarrassed Barak.
Barak, who was questioned as a witness rather than a suspect, told police that when Ashkenazi realized Barak planned to appoint Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant as the next chief of staff, he told the minister he would view this as a declaration of war.
What Weiner and Benayahu told police cannot be published at this stage, but it included statements similar to those they made in previous, noncriminal probes of the affair, like the one conducted by the state comptroller. In those probes, the two blamed Barak’s bureau for the bad blood between the parties.
Once the police have finished questioning all the relevant people, they will review the material and formulate recommendations on whether to indict. Their goal is to finalize these recommendations and pass them on to the prosecution by mid-June. Prosecutors, including Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, will make the final decision on whether indictments are warranted.