The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday concluded the Harpaz Affair, which at its height threatened to put major government officials in jail, including the defense and another minister, an IDF chief of staff and the prime minister’s cabinet secretary – who is now the nation’s attorney-general.
After years of probes and drama that could have caused the defense establishment to collapse, only the main defendant was convicted – Boaz Harpaz himself – and even he was not given jail time. Instead, he was sentenced to a mere 220 hours of community service.
Since March 2017, it seemed like Harpaz, the mid-level retired IDF officer, would obtain a lenient plea deal from the state prosecution.
Despite his being convicted of forging a document, known as the Harpaz Document, the court and the state eventually agreed to help pave the way for Harpaz to return to his occupation of defense consulting, after being banned for nine years since the affair broke in 2010.
Ultimately, it appears that Harpaz’s lawyer, Amit Hadad – who also represents Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – succeeded in obtaining favorable terms from the defense establishment regarding future work for his client – although negotiations have been drawn out since 2017.
The Harpaz Affair dates back to August 2010, starting as the result of fighting between then-defense minister Ehud Barak and then IDF chief-of-staff and current Blue and White incoming MK Gabi Ashkenazi over a variety of security issues and powers.
Eventually the sides even allegedly spied on each other; Harpaz initiated an elaborate plot to use the document he forged to undermine Yoav Gallant – Barak’s first choice to succeed Ashkenazi as IDF chief, but who Ashkenazi opposed.
Gallant, a decorated major general, eventually lost the race for IDF chief, partially due to scrutiny brought on by the affair; he eventually became a minister in the Kulanu and Likud parties.
Before Harpaz was finally indicted in October 2016, the police recommended indicting Ashkenazi, current Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (then the prime minister’s cabinet secretary) and former IDF chief spokesmen Brig. Gen. (res.) Avi Benayahu. They also criminally investigated Barak and questioned recently retired IDF chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who was involved in the affair in an ancillary manner.
Eventually, all of the top officials were cleared by then attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein, but the stain of the affair almost blocked Mandelblit from becoming attorney-general – and many say that it permanently damaged Ashkenazi from being a contender for prime minister. His entrance into politics in 2019 was delayed by years – and even then, he only entered as a secondary official to Benny Gantz, who had served under him in the past.