'Harpaz offered to spy on Defense Minister Barak'
State Comptroller Report describes a deteriorating relationship between two most important figures in the defense community.
Boaz Harpaz Photo: Channel 10
The State Comptroller’s Report on the Harpaz document affair released on Sunday
sets out an account of a former intelligence figure who makes a disturbing offer
to spy on the defense minister, and whose offer is ultimately accepted by an
aide to the IDF chief of staff.
It is a story filled with intrigue, and
revolves around a deteriorating relationship between the two most important
figures in the defense community at the time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and
Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
As rumors flew around about the ill-intentions
of one camp toward the other, in stepped Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, a retired
mid-ranking Military Intelligence figure who had previously been accused of
leaking confidential information and whose career came to a rather abrupt end in
Yet, long after he left the army, the State Comptroller’s Report
notes, Harpaz and officers in key positions in Military Intelligence maintained
Senior intelligence officers viewed Harpaz as a well-connected and
talented man, and turned to him for consultations on matters such as changes in
intelligence units. In the process, Harpaz was given access to classified
“These consultations occurred without permission,” the
report notes, and despite an order issued in 2004 by then-Military Intelligence
Aharon Farkash to deny Harpaz access to sensitive and
classified Military Intelligence areas. In 2009, then-Military Intelligence
chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin ordered all staff to refrain from sharing
information with Harpaz.
The orders went unheeded, as several senior
Military Intelligence figures went on meeting with Harpaz and consulted with him
on various issues.
The State Comptroller’s Office has called on the IDF
to fully address how the clearance system failed.
appointment of Ashkenazi as IDF chief of staff in 2007, Harpaz was able to lead
Military Intelligence staff into believing that he enjoyed a close social bond
with him, the State Comptroller’s Report said.
A senior Military
Intelligence commander testified that Harpaz sent him text messages with the
words “I’m at his [office],” leading the commander to believe that Harpaz was
with the chief of staff.
Harpaz also maintained links with sections in
the Defense Ministry, the report said, noting ties he had in its Export
Supervision Wing, Purchasing Administration and other areas.
In 2010, the
director-general of the Defense Ministry, Udi Shani, ordered an investigation
into his ministry’s interactions with Harpaz. The inquiry concluded that Harpaz
received “preferential treatment, and [enjoyed] open doors to all heads of
The report criticized the ministry’s conduct as
“problematic, strange and bizarre, in light of the fact that in every wing in
which he operated, he received privileged treatment and a cutting of
The inquiry also found that the “aura which surrounds Harpaz...
contributed to a blindness of those involved and led existing security checks to
Shani ordered security to be tightened up and that
certain regulations be changed. This included “tightening physical and
computerized supervision on the floor [at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel
Aviv] of the minister of defense and the director-general, and... appropriate
The report notes that Ashkenazi and Harpaz first
met in the early 1990s, in a professional capacity while fulfilling their
respective army roles.
In 2006, when Harpaz launched an appeal against
the termination of his army career, Ashkenazi testified on his behalf, and
called on him to be reinstated.
Ronit Ashkenazi, the former chief of
staff’s wife, told the state comptroller that her husband would speak with
Harpaz whenever he wanted to “know something about someone, some officer. He
wanted to know about everyone before he decided on an appointment...
he consulted with Harpaz, among other people.”
According to the report,
after 2006, ties between the two men faded, until the start of 2010, when Harpaz
approached Ashkenazi to discuss worsening relations between Ashkenazi and the
defense minister, Ehud Barak.
Harpaz told Ashkenazi that he had
information about Barak’s conduct toward Ashkenazi.
At this stage,
relations between Barak and Ashkenazi deteriorated to the point of serious
crisis, and there was a mutual lack of trust between them.
Ashkenazi about rumors on “things they want to do,” and mentioned “some sort of
paper, a plan showing an intent to harm Ashkenazi.”
Harpaz to his aide Col. Erez Viner.
Viner maintains that he listened to
Harpaz’s claims, but took no action, telling him that if there was proof, it
should be sent to law enforcement.
At the same time, according to the
report, Viner became disturbed that Harpaz was privy to insider information
about the goings-on at the Defense Ministry.
“He made predictions that
were proven correct time and again,” Viner later told the state
Viner came to believe that Harpaz “does in fact have access
to relevant information that can assist the chief of staff’s bureau, to prevent
surprises and prevent harm to the chief of staff’s ability to function,” he told
Between February and August 2010, the report notes, 7
percent of all phone conversations held by Viner were with Harpaz.
was in touch with Harpaz mainly in order to gather information on the conduct of
Barak and his surroundings, as well as on Barak’s chief of special staff,” the
report said. “In addition, Viner cooperated with Harpaz in collecting
information of a slanderous nature, which Harpaz gathered on Barak and his
surroundings,” it added.
Harpaz was the main initiator, but Viner
cooperated, the report argued. “He [Viner] received information, and didn’t
demand that Harpaz cease bringing the information.
opposite happened – Viner passed on the information and encouraged [Harpaz] to
collect more,” it stated.
In one phone conversation, Viner asked Harpaz
to find out if senior members of Barak’s bureau were flying business class on a
trip to the US, after members of Ashkenazi’s staff were barred from doing
Viner later defended the episode by saying that he was trying to
enable a senior army officer join the chief of staff on a flight.
state comptroller criticizes Viner for failing to clarify what Harpaz meant
when, in another phone exchange, he mentioned taking steps against Barak. “Viner
should have clarified what Harpaz meant, and opposed it,” the report
“In another conversation, Harpaz offered to get hold of a document
through improper ways, and Viner encourages him to do so,” it added.
another conversation, Viner asked Harpaz to get more documents that would shed
light on Barak’s conduct. This constitutes an active step to gather information
on the conduct of Barak’s surroundings, through Harpaz,” the report
The report said Ashkenazi had responsibility for Viner’s activities
vis-a-vis Harpaz, even he was not fully aware of the details.