From its first day, the police investigation into the forged “Galant document”
has been anything but usual. The document, made public by Channel 2 earlier this
month, purports to show that Arad Communications, a public relations firm, drew
up a detailed plan to damage the reputations of senior IDF officers in a bid to
promote OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s candidacy to become chief of
Police have since established that the document is a
forgery and have vindicated the Arad firm’s claim that its logo was unlawfully
As far as the police is concerned, tracking down the person or
group of people who placed Arad’s logo on the document is the end goal of the
For the IDF, however, things are far more complex, and the
document has raised troubling questions about cloak-and-dagger plots and bitter
rivalries at its helm.
Under pressure from Attorney-General Yehuda
Weinstein, the police was forced to act unusually in ordering its elite National
Serious and International Crimes Unit to head the investigation into the minor
suspicion of forgery, former senior National Fraud Unit investigator Dep.-Cmdr.
Boaz Guttman told The Jerusalem Post
Also unusual for document
forgery cases, police arrested the main suspect, Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, a
former intelligence officer, at the airport upon his arrival from a trip abroad
and insisted that he be kept in custody.
The penalty for a conviction for
forgery is a one-year prison sentence, and the police is not in the habit of
making such dramatic arrests when investigating offenses that carry such a
relatively light sentence. At most, suspects are questioned, and indictments are
eventually either written up or the case is dropped.
The law does,
however, stipulate that a conviction on a charge of aggravated forgery carries a
prison sentence of five years – a far more serious affair. And “aggravated
forgery” is the count being investigated by detectives, police announced this
But Guttman said there was nothing “aggravated” about the Galant
document forgery. “What makes it aggravated? The fact that it was leaked to
Channel 2 news?” he asked. “Forging a document, on its own, is a child’s act.
You don’t need an elite international unit to investigate. Media pressure is
behind this investigation. There’s no reason to keep this man locked up other
than to score points with the media. This is a show.”
Col. Gabi Siboni,
an associate of OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, is the man who
leaked the document to Channel 2, and he has affirmed that the content of the
paper, which laid out detailed instructions on how to damage the reputations of
Galant’s rivals, was highly relevant and true, even if the logo was
“If charged, Harpaz could call Siboni and [Chief of General
Staff Lt.-Gen Gabi] Ashkenazi and others to the witness stand in his defense to
say that the text is true,” Guttman said. “All we are talking about, from a
legal perspective, is a logo.”
Indeed, Siboni told police during
questioning that he received a copy of the paper from Col. Erez Viner, an
assistant to Ashkenazi. Senior military figures, like IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen.
Avi Benayahu – a close associate of Ashkenazi – were heard referring to the
document’s content before it was leaked to Channel 2, lending credence to the
view that it was taken very seriously by senior officers.
however says he first learned of the document at the time of the Channel 2
During its investigation, the police questioned more than 200
people, gave very senior army officers polygraph tests and took another unusual
step. To relieve pressure on Galant, his rivals, Ashkenazi and Defense Minister
Ehud Barak, the police informed the public that none of the above was linked to
the document, allowing Barak to resume his planned appointment of Galant as the
next chief of General Staff.
Police acknowledged that publishing
information about an investigation before it was complete was rare, and
justified the step as being in the “public interest,” thereby lending weight to
Guttman’s position that the investigation’s pace, intensity and character are
being defined by public opinion, not by suspicions of a criminal
Yet more unusual steps followed. On Tuesday, police came to an
agreement with Harpaz’s lawyers, according to which he will remain in custody
for five days.
For defense lawyers and police to agree a custody period
is odd, but for a forgery suspect to be kept in custody for five days is quite
Harpaz’s willingness to remain in custody was part of a deal
with the police, which was asked to allow him to avoid the intense media
spotlight and remain absent from the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court where his
remand hearing took place. The police gladly accepted the deal.
a businessman active in the fields of defense sales and real estate. Maintaining
a low profile appears to be an absolute priority for him. Meanwhile, police have
maintained unprecedented secrecy around the progress of the
It is known that investigators are checking the
possibility that Harpaz did not act alone and that that he could be part of a
larger group of IDF officers who came together to create the Galant
Harpaz has told the police that he does not know who gave him
the document, and has consistently denied forging it. The coming days will
reveal whether he is playing fall guy for a larger group, and whether this most
unusual investigation will create further turbulence in the army.www.yaakovlappin.com
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