Watchdog Poised to Launch Inquiry Into Harpaz Affair

State comptroller to investigate the forged document that aimed to influence the appointment of the next chief of staff.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is expected to announce in the near future that his office is launching an investigation into the forged document that aimed to influence the appointment of the next chief of staff. Lt. Col. (res. ) Boaz Harpaz has been implicated in the case.

For a number of weeks the state comptroller's staff has been collecting documents and information on the affair.

The head of the Defense Desk at the State Comptroller's Office, Maj. Gen. (res. ) Ya'akov Or, is carrying out a preliminary, unofficial examination and has received much information.

Ashkenazi - appelbaum - oct 24, 2010
Tomer Appelbaum / BauBau

On Thursday police delivered their findings to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. The police have recommended that charges be brought against Harpaz for forgery.

Lindenstrauss is now waiting for Weinstein's decision; he will then announce which aspects of the affair his office will investigate.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced last night that he will contact Lindenstrauss this morning with a request that he "investigate this grave affair in all its aspects."

The spokesman for the state comptroller, Shlomo Raz, told Haaretz last night that the staff has been "studying the issue discreetly for a number of weeks. The state comptroller will evaluate the defense minister's request and other issues and make a fairly quick decision."

Raz added that "the inclination is to embark on an extensive probe. In view of the steps already taken, it will be possible to move quickly to begin a probe."

Sources familiar with the case added that it is possible to set up "boundaries" between the work of the state comptroller and the separate Brick committee, but Lindenstrauss will have the higher authority.

On Friday, Channel 1's Ayala Hasson reported details on the relationship between Harpaz and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. According to Hasson, while Ashkenazi was in private business - after his retirement from the Israel Defense Forces and before he was appointed for a brief stint as Defense Ministry director general in 2006 - he tried to assist Harpaz in various business deals. According to the report, Harpaz corresponded extensively with the wife of the chief of staff, Ronit Ashkenazi, who was partly involved in appointments at the General Staff.

Ronit Ashkenazi, according to Channel 1, and Harpaz exchanged around 150 text messages, some about General Staff appointments.

In one instance, according to the report, the two discussed the promotion of an officer who had commanded the elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit to brigadier general. But in the end the matter did not progress. The report claims that the officer in question had been involved years earlier in the investigation into Harpaz while he served in intelligence units.

Hasson referred to a Haaretz story that Harpaz had sought to be allowed back into intelligence and be promoted to colonel, even though he had been forced out of the IDF because of field security violations, and his security clearance had been lowered.

The IDF Spokesman's Office denied that there had been efforts to bring Harpaz back to Military Intelligence, describing the story as baseless.

According to Channel 1, the Harpaz case was investigated by three committees in the army, and despite the severity of his transgressions, Ashkenazi and former Military Intelligence chief Amos Malka intervened on his behalf so he could leave the army with a full pension and benefits.

Harpaz said he could not comment on matters involving the investigation.