(photo credit: Channel 10)
Former chief of staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday questioned each others' truthfulness in relation to the "Harpaz affair."
Ashkenazi pointed out that his associates testified under polygraph and were found to be telling the truth, "while the defense minister's associates did not get such an approval from law enforcement authorities."
He added that, "Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his bureau chief publicly stated that they did not know lieutenant colonel Boaz Harpaz. I doubt this testimony."
"My heart is with the senior IDF officers...who had to deal with complaints made both publicly and behind closed doors from the Minister of Defense about their abilities," said Ashkenazi with reference to leaks from Barak attacking the abilities of the head of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
Ashkenazi defended the top IDF commanders as having been selected because of their stellar qualifications, talent and commitment and lashed out at Barak stating that he felt sorrow for these commanders having to face embarrassment in front of their soldiers "as a result of the irresponsible statements of the defense minister."
Barak's office responded to Ashkenazi's latest salvo claiming that Ashkenazi and his central former aid, Col. Erez Weiner had prevented dissemination of the State Comptroller's Report.
By allegedly preventing the report's distribution, Barak said that Ashkenazi and Weiner stopped "presentation of the truth to the public and instead continue to spread lies, as has happened throughout the investigation, and mislead the public."
Barak did not elaborate as to how they had allegedly prevented the comptroller's report from being distributed. The comptroller's report has been delayed due to disputes between the comptroller and Weiner about turning over documents in the case, but there has been no indication that the dispute will do anything more than somewhat delay the report's publication.
The defense minister's response continued that it was even more "distressing to see someone directly attack" a commander who was his subordinate, referring to Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant.
Barak claimed that Ashkenazi was ultimately behind attempts to discredit Galant to disqualify him from appointment as the next IDF chief of staff, and appeared to have committed "criminal acts." To date, no law enforcement officer has charged or implied a possibility of charging Ashkenazi with any crime, although there is a debate about whether Weiner may have committed criminal acts.
He added that a commander who took such actions was being a hypocrite to attack Barak regarding statements he made about Kochavi and was just trying to "throw sand in the eyes of the public."