Secret 'Harpaz' Probe Finds Defense Ministry Inaccessible to Civilians

Investigation also finds problems with the supervision of the distribution of security equipment to senior officers in the reserves.

A Defense Ministry committee appointed to investigate internal flaws in the wake of the so-called Harpaz document has found serious failures in granting civilians access to Defense Ministry facilities. The committee also found problems supervising the distribution of security equipment to senior officers in the reserves.

The committee was formed after the Harpaz affair, in which Lt. Col. (Res.) Boaz Harpaz forged a paper that attempted to influence the selection of the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff in favor of Maj. Gen Yoav Galant.

Boaz Harpaz (Alon Ron)
Alon Ron

The committee, headed by Brig. Gen. (res.) Shmuel Tzuker, a senior Defense Ministry official, is to submit its recommendations on Sunday to the ministry's director general, Maj. Gen. (res.) Ehud Shani.

The committee's existence had been kept a secret until recently. Following Harpaz's admission that he forged the document, Defense Minister Ehud Barak appointed an investigative panel headed by IDF ombudsman Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brik. However, Brik halted the work of the committee at the request of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

The Harpaz affair is now being investigated by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.

The IDF only learned recently of the Tzuker committee's work, which led to an increase in the already-existing tension between outgoing Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Barak. The army is said to oppose an internal investigation as long as Lindenstrauss' probe is ongoing.

In addition to examining the forging of the document, Lindenstrauss is also looking into the process of appointing Galant, who is to replace Ashkenazi; relations between Barak and Ashkenazi; between Harpaz and the IDF General Staff, and property at Moshav Amikam, where Galant lives.

The Defense Ministry responded that the committee had been appointed by the director general and not Barak, and would not respond to the panel's recommendations until they had been presented to senior Defense Ministry officials.