A Military Police team began investigating the so-called Harpaz affair this week. Investigators intend to question former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, his aide Col. Erez Weiner and several other senior officers, including reservists.
The Harpaz affair is named after a document that surfaced in 2010, detailing false plans among Defense Minister Ehud Barak's associates for a mudslinging campaign against then Chief of Staff Ashkenazi, intended to influence the choice of the next chief of staff.
An investigation led to the counterfeiter, Lt. Col. (res. ) Boaz Harpaz, an associate of Ashkenazi's.
The MP team is expected to go through many hours of recordings from the chief of staff's office, in addition to the material already examined by the State Comptroller's staff.
The attorney general instructed reopening the investigation last week at the request of Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, nine months after former State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss recommended reexamining criminal aspects he had raised in his report.
However, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein restricted the MP probe into suspicion of improper conduct on Weiner's and possibly Ashkenazi's part. Weinstein ruled that only if the investigators find grounds for other suspicions may they expand the probe.
Military sources told Haaretz the inquiry will require sifting through some 20,000 hours of recorded conversations made in the chief of staff's office during the height of the conflict between him and Barak.
The comptroller's staff sorted out the conversations and examined a sample of close to a 1,000, from which it selected some 100 (mainly between Weiner and Harpaz, but also between Ashkenazi and Weiner ) as relevant.
The comptroller did not use Military Intelligence communication analysis technology because of Harpaz' closeness to senior Intelligence officers. Shin Bet security service chiefs Yuval Diskin and Yoram Cohen firmly refused to assist the probe, claiming it wasn't the service's job. Now the MP will be able to use IDF Intelligence devices to trace information.
Ashkenazi insisted that the comptroller's focusing on recordings from his office had created a bias in Barak's favor, which was reflected in the investigation's conclusions.
Last week, after the decision to reopen the inquiry, Ashkenazi called to reexamine the destruction of conversation recordings from Barak's office (the comptroller concluded this had been done innocently ).
The State Prosecution, which decided to indict Harpaz for producing the false document some two years ago, is expected to postpone the indictment following the MP investigation.
The Movement for Quality Government petitioned the High Court of Justice this week to order the attorney general, state prosecutor and military advocate general to instruct launching an overall criminal police investigation into the affair.
The petitioners say the decision to open a limited MP probe against Weiner and Ashkenazi as sole interrogees "is extremely unreasonable, discriminating and unproportional."