Harpaz Says Gabi Ashkenazi Tasked Him to Dig for Dirt on Defense Minister Barak

Boaz Harpaz's statement was primary reason for comptroller's recommendation to reopen criminal investigation into so-called Harpaz affair.

Former Israel Defense Forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi personally tasked Boaz Harpaz with finding potentially damaging information about Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the reserve office has told the state comptroller.

Harpaz's statement was the primary reason State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss recommended last week that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein reopen a criminal investigation into the so-called Harpaz affair, which involved an alleged attempt to influence the selection of Ashkenazi's successor as IDF chief of staff by means of a forged document.

Former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi (left) and former Mossad chief Dagan, New York, April 29, 2012.
Mark Yisrael Salem

Weinstein announced Sunday that he would not reopen a criminal investigation right now, but would consider doing so at a later date.

Harpaz's current statement indicates that Ashkenazi may have coordinated his testimony with his wife Ronit and with Weiner, the comptroller said.

Meanwhile, the audiotapes relating to the Harpaz affair are missing because they have sustained technical damage, according to an internal Defense Ministry investigation that has reached Haaretz.

The missing tapes, of phone conversations between Weiner and Harpaz, played a big role in the dispute between Ashkenazi and Barak. Ashkenazi has called for an investigation of how the tapes were damaged or destroyed.

The information came to light a day after Barak accused Ashkenazi of bribery, forgery and obstruction of justice. Barak said that by giving Harpaz influence over senior IDF appointments, Ashkenazi enabled him to obtain bribes from officers seeking promotion. An aid to Ashkenazi said Barak's letter was his attempt "to generate media spin, in order to prevent an investigation into the disappearance or destruction of all the tapes and documents related to the Harpaz incident from his office."

Lindenstrauss asked the army for the tapes after Ashkenazi retired last year, and received them from his successor, Benny Gantz. But when the comptroller asked for similar tapes from Barak's office, he was told technical failures had caused the loss of several years' worth of recorded material.

The Defense Ministry set up an internal inquiry committee. The panel found that while all conversations on the chief of staff's office phones are automatically recorded, the recording system in the defense minister's office was activated only to document conversations relating to military operations and those that took place between Barak and foreign leaders.

But those tapes were destroyed when a defect in the air-conditioning system damaged the two hard disks used to record the conversations on the classified phone system as well as the regular one, the inquiry committee found. Both hard disks were physically destroyed, before Lindenstrauss made his request.

After Lindenstrauss requested the tapes, one of the disks was found and sent to outside data restoration companies, which were unable to restore the information. The second disk had been fully destroyed.