(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi distanced himself from the so-called “Galant Document” on Monday but admitted that it was in his possession for four months when the alleged forger, Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, gave it to his chief aide.
Ashkenazi made the remarks during a meeting of the IDF’s General Staff on Monday that was partially dedicated to a discussion on the document which is still subject to a police investigation. Ashkenazi also congratulated OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant upon his appointment as the next chief of staff and promised to work together to ensure a smooth transfer of authority in February when Askenazi steps down.
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During the meeting, Ashkenazi admitted to having received the document from Harpaz but said that it was kept in the office of his chief assistant Col. Erez Weiner, who, on his own accord, decided to give to a former IDF officer who eventually leaked it to Channel 2 News.
Ashkenazi said that he has known Harpaz for a number of years since he served as head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate and during the period he served as deputy chief of staff. “When I took up the post as chief of staff, Boaz came to me, like a number of former officers did, to present me with recommendations and ideas about various military issues,” he said.
In early 2010, Ashkenazi said that a number of people, some of them officials within the defense establishment, met with him to discuss reports they had heard about so-called “external intervention” in the race for the next chief of staff. One of them, he told the generals, was Harpaz.
“It is important for me to clarify that Harpaz and I never had business ties and he is not a visitor at my house,” Ashkenazi said. “I sent Harpaz to meet with Col. Erez Weiner, like I do in many similar cases.”
Towards the end of April, Ashkenazi said that Harpaz gave the document to Weiner, who photocopied it and returned the original.
“Later, Erez showed me the document which matched the reports that I had heard from other sources,” Ashkenazi said. “Already before receiving the document, I had decided to stay quiet and not respond to the rumors out of respect for the IDF and in an effort to retain the public’s faith in the military. This is how I continued to behave after receiving the document as well.”
Ashkenazi said that at a later stage OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz each individually came to speak with him about rumors they had heard regarding the race for the next chief of staff.
“After much deliberation, I decided to share with them information about the document and its content,” Ashkenazi said. “I did not publicize the existence of the document in order to prevent what has taken place over the past few weeks.”
During the entire time, Ashkenazi said that the document was in Weiner’s office and that the colonel decided, without his permission, to share the document with other IDF officers and reservists, including Gabi Siboni, the former colonel who leaked it to Channel 2.
“Not even once did I think that one of the members of the General Staff could have been involved in this affair,” Ashkenazi said. “When the investigation began I turned to the attorney general on my own and informed him that I was in possession of the document.”
Meanwhile Monday, Eizenkot stood by his decision to turn down a request by Galant, the next chief of staff, to serve as his deputy. Eizenkot, according to close associates, plans to retire from the IDF after a suitable replacement is found.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was surprised by the decision, particularly because great efforts were made to persuade Eizenkot to stay on for the stability of the IDF.
Prior to the "Galant Document" scandal, Eizenkot had reportedly suggested that he would be interested in taking on the position.
light of this development, the two natural candidates lined up for the
role would be OC Central Command Chief Avi Mizrahi, and Israel's
Military Attaché in Washington Gadi Shamni. However, Mizrahi has told
close associates in recent days that he would prefer not to take up the
deputy position were it to be offered to him, and instead intends to
finish his term at the Central Command before retiring from the IDF.
would leave Shamni as the leading candidate, and would consequently
present Galant with a young and inexperienced general staff. He may have
difficulty finding a more experienced deputy, leading to speculation
that he could return ousted or retired officers to service, such as
Brig.-Gen. Moshe (Chico) Tamir or Brig.-Gen. Imad Faris.