Defense officials tense ahead of comptroller reports

Top officials fear fallout from publication of Lindenstrauss’s probes of ‘Mavi Marmara’ and Harpaz Document affairs.

311_Micha Lindenstrauss (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
311_Micha Lindenstrauss
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tension is growing within the defense establishment ahead of the publication of two reports by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss in the coming months on last year’s Gaza flotilla and the Harpaz Document, amid predictions that senior officials will be accused of wrongdoing.
The first report to be published will likely be the one Lindenstrauss has been writing on the botched raid aboard the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship, which ended in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals after Navy commandos came under attack on the ship’s upper deck.
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In early June, the comptroller gave a first draft of the report to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, to give them the opportunity to respond to the accusations. Gantz was not chief of General Staff at the time, but he was serving as deputy to Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who has since retired.
The report is expected to criticize Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was not in Israel during last year’s naval operation to stop the flotilla and whose involvement in the decision-making process ahead of the operation was also perceived as minimal.
The IDF is also expected to take some heat for the way Ashkenazi prepared the military for the flotilla, and how he was not in the IDF command center the morning of the operation – a possible indication of the military’s failure to properly assess the violence commandos would encounter on the Mavi Marmara.
Navy commander V.-Adm. Eliezer Marom is also expected to take some of the criticism due to the lack of intelligence obtained, and for the way the commandos were sent onto the ship – fast-roping onto the deck one by one, and with paint guns and not pistols at the ready.
The second report, still being written, has to do with the socalled Harpaz Document, which led the government to overturn an earlier decision to appoint former head of the Southern Command retired Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant as the next chief of General Staff.
On Thursday, Yediot Aharonot reported that Boaz Harpaz, the alleged author of the document, which was forged to look like a roadmap for how to get Galant appointed as chief of staff, recently met with Lindenstrauss and revealed his side of the affair.
As a result of Harpaz’s testimony, Ashkenazi, who is currently a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, is expected to be asked in the coming weeks to return to Israel to undergo questioning by the comptroller regarding his relationship with Harpaz.
When Harpaz was first identified as the alleged forger of the document, Ashkenazi denied that he had had a prior relationship with the former lieutenant-colonel from Military Intelligence, which is also being probed to see if Harpaz misused his position there – with or without his superiors’ knowledge – to do business while in active service.
Reports have, however, emerged in recent months regarding the Ashkenazi- Harpaz relationship, and how the former IDF chief used Harpaz as a mole in Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office.