Construction Minister and Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant sharply criticized former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Friday, following reports that Ashkenazi’s file in the Harpaz affair may be closed. In an interview with TV Channel 2’s Friday evening magazine, Galant said that “someone who betrayed people under his command and rebelled against the government should be tried and jailed instead of being lauded.”
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Galant called the expected decision “puzzling,” adding that what Ashkenazi did in the Harpaz affair (in which claims were made that documents were forged in order to prevent Galant from succeeding Ashkenazi) was “one of the most serious deeds in the country’s history, worse than the mishap of the Egged line 300 affair [when captured bus hijackers were allegedly executed by security officials].”
Galant accused Ashkenazi of carrying out a “putsch,” saying that he “defiled the values of the Israel Defense Forces while committing felonies.”
He said that the former chief of staff “collected material about me in order to use it against me, using emissaries such as Boaz Harpaz and others” out of vengeance and “concern that I become chief of staff and discover his crimes.”
Galant added that Ashkenazi hid a document that he knew the police were looking for.
“A person who collects information about the defense minister, his wife, who follows and photographs officers – can we tolerate that?”
Regarding the document that generated the Harpaz affair, Galant said: “I’m convinced that just as he [Ashkenazi] concealed his links with Harpaz, he’s concealing his involvement in writing that document.”
When asked if closing the file stems from external considerations, Galant answered in the affirmative. He reminded his interviewer, the program’s anchor, that the anchor of the program at the time the affair was exposed was Yair Lapid, who is now thought to be trying to recruit Ashkenazi to his Yesh Atid party. Galant called on the justice system to reveal all the unclassified documents that were collected during the investigation before a final decision is made.
Ashkenazi’s spokesman said that “Ashkenazi’s case was investigated in an unprecedented manner by the state comptroller and the police, including listening to endless hours of tapes from his bureau. It was clearly determined that there was no putsch and that he wasn’t involved in any forgeries or leaks or in foiling Galant’s appointment. Attempts to rehash this are groundless.”
Ashkenazi said that Galant was not appointed chief of staff due to his inappropriate behavior, as determined by the comptroller.
“It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t take responsibility, trying to blame others. He should agree to publication of the complete comptroller’s report on him so that the public can judge,” the former chief of staff said.
Last week it was reported that the justice ministry estimates that the case against Ashkenazi will be closed, despite the fact that no legal opinion has been given. Only Harpaz, former IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu and the chief of staff’s aide Col. Erez Weiner are expected to be prosecuted for forgery. The police had earlier recommended that Ashkenazi be indicted for breach of trust and disclosure of classified information, but later decided that there were no grounds for claims of an attempted “putsch.”