Report: Police Suspect IDF Reserve Officer in Galant Document Forgery

Document believed to be a forgery purports to outline a PR campaign by front-runner in race to succeed Gabi Ashkenazi as IDF chief.

Police officials said Thursday that a senior Israel Defense Forces reserve officer was suspected in the alleged forgery of the Galant document, Channel 10 news reported.

IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Tomer Appelbaum, Moti Kimche, Alon Ron

According to the police, the officer has not been questioned yet as he has been abroad during the time of the investigation.

The document is named for Brigadier-General Yoav Galant - the head of the IDF Southern Command and a front-runner in the race to succeed Ashkenazi - and purports to outline a PR campaign for Galant in his efforts to become the next chief of staff. The existence of the document was first exposed by Channel 2 television's news program two weeks ago. Galant denies any connection to the document, as does PR guru Eyal Arad, whose company logo is said to appear on the document.

Earlier, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said Israel Defense Forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi and other senior officers are not implicated in the document at the center of a row over the selection of the next army chief.

Weinstein said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak can now resume the selection process for a new IDF chief, a process that had been suspended in the wake of the release of the so-called Galant document.

Police officers have already indicated that they believe the document to be a forgery, and part of a plot involving current and retired senior IDF officers to influence the appointment of the new army chief.

The attorney general's comments came as Israel Police issued a statement alleging that no evidence had been found that "any workers of the defense minister or IDF general staff were involved in the preparation of the document."

"Suspicions that the IDF chief or other members of the IDF general staff were involved in the preparation of the document are completely unfounded," the statement said.

Weinstein ordered two weeks ago that the process of selecting a new IDF chief be deferred, following a request by Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for an investigation into the affair.

In his first public remarks concerning the document, Ashkenzai said Wednesday that he trusted the authorities would find the bring the truth to light.

"The IDF has been cooperating with the investigation for 10 days," Ashkenazi told an audience attending a graduation ceremony for IDF officers in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening. "All I can say is we are relying on Israel Police to bring the truth to light as soon as possible."

Ashkanazi told police Tuesday that the document had been in his possession for weeks and that he had not done anything with it. He gave a copy to the police, which led them to hold off with their request for a court order forcing Channel 2 to release its copy.

While Ashkenazi is not suspected of any criminal offense in the matter, he has come under fire for failing to immediately hand over to police a document that seems to suggest a conspiracy to cause a rift between him and Barak.

Dozens of people have given statements to police in connection with the affair.

Investigators are now expected to begin questioning suspects under caution.