Police Recommend Indicting ex-IDF Chief Ashkenazi, Others Over Harpaz Affair

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Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi in 2011.
Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi in 2011. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Israeli Police on Tuesday announced it has completed its investigation into the controversial "Harpaz Affair," and that it recommends putting all the key players involved in the scandal on trial. 

At the center of the affair was the “Harpaz document,” which surfaced in 2010, and the mutual dislike of Gabi Ashkenazi and then Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Lt. Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, an associate of Ashkenazi’s, forged the document in order to keep Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant from succeeding Ashkenazi as chief of staff. Specifically, the document described plans by Barak’s associates to launch a smear campaign aimed at Ashkenazi.

Police recommended indictments against former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi; former IDF Spokesman Avi Benyahu; former head of the chief of staff's office, retired Colonel Erez Weiner; and  cabinet secretary Avichai Mendelblit, who was military advocate-general when the affair broke out.

These recommendations will now be submitted to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who will decide whether the indictments will be served.

In recent months, the police Lahav 433 unit, which is popularly known as Israel’s FBI, has been questioning the key figures in the affair. The final witness questioned was former Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The main news in the affair is that senior officials in the army and in the security establishment in the past and in the present committed criminal offenses. Some of these were related to the murky relationship between the offices of Ashekanzi and Barak at that time.

Police investigated Ashkenazi on suspicion of breach of trust and obstruction of justice. Barak testified in April that the former IDF chief tried to undermine him and foil some of his appointments. He told investigators that at no point did he conceal at any point in time that Ashkenazi was acting against him – and even tried to prevent some of his appointments.

Ashkenazi is also suspected of passing information to an unauthorized source, including journalists. According to the suspicions, he leaked information about a planned operation, which would have allegedly endangered the lives of those who took part in it. His wife, Ronit, was also called in for questioning over the affair, but at this stage it is not clear whether an indictment will be served against her, too.

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