IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told a senior military forum that the State Comptroller’s Report on the Harpaz Affair marked “a sad day for the IDF, the State of Israel, citizens and everyone who was close to the affair.”

The report charted a feud between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former chief of staff Lt.- Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, which culminated in a forged document that was leaked to the press.

“I don’t intend to be a judge between the sides involved in this report, and I will handle my area in the IDF,” Gantz said, speaking at the start of the General Staff’s investigation into November’s Operation Pillar of Defense.

“Lines were crossed and improper steps were taken in functional and ethical terms,” the chief of staff added. “On occasion, authority was exploited in relation to other people, through the use of information. On occasion, a good act was carried out in good faith, but it crossed lines that must not be crossed.”

Gantz said that he could not accept such conduct, despite his high regard for the people involved in the affair.

Addressing the part of the report which noted that former intelligence officer Boaz Harpaz had been able to override instructions banning him from receiving classified information from Military Intelligence, Gantz said that both the former and current commanders of Military Intelligence had already repaired the loopholes that had allowed this to happen.

“We appointed two more committees to ensure that we do not have breaches,” Gantz said, adding that he intended to continue dealing with the afterffects of the affair.

“I don’t think there was ever a misunderstanding... regarding the seniority of the government over the military wing,” Gantz said, addressing claims by Barak that Ashkenazi had attempted to carry out an insurrection against the elected government. The State Comptroller’s Report said no insurrection had been attempted.

“We’re pleased to know that we are a military that belongs to a state and not a state that belongs to a military,” Gantz said. “We will continue to carry out orders by the government in accordance with the law – that is the situation today, and that is the situation that will continue into the future,” he added.

Gantz said that the military had moved on and put the affair behind it, and that the IDF was a strong organization that knew how to recover from difficult crises.

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