War of words over Harpaz affair escalates

Ashkenazi counterattacks Barak for allegedly causing tapes and documents from Harpaz affair to disappear.

barak ashkenazi 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
barak ashkenazi 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Associates of former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi hit back at Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday night, stating that Barak's latest claims against Ashkenazi are a baseless and ridiculous attempt to divert authorities from investigating the disappearance of tapes and documents in Barak's office relevant to the Harpaz affair.
Earlier Sunday, Barak accused Ashkenazi of crimes related to receiving a bribe and assisting in giving a bribe.
Barak leveled the accusations in a letter he sent to Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein.
In the letter, Barak also called on State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to immediately publish his report into the Harpaz affair, which he claimed would reveal “harsh conclusions” regarding Ashkenazi’s conduct.
“The draft report and the evidence it is based on paints a difficult picture including a series of crimes,” the defense minister wrote.
Earlier on Sunday, Weinstein confirmed reports that his office is considering opening a criminal investigation into the so-called Harpaz affair, in light of new evidence recently obtained by law enforcement officials.
Weinstein said that his office would need to review the material and would then decide whether to open a formal criminal probe. Despite the possibility that such an investigation will be launched, he told Lindenstrauss on Sunday that he should complete his report into the affair as soon as possible.
“Since a draft of the report has already been distributed to the relevant parties, the public benefit from releasing the report outweighs the potential harms to a future police investigation,” Weinstein said.
The Harpaz affair is named for Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, a former Military Intelligence officer who allegedly forged a document detailing a strategy of how to get former OC Southern Command Maj.- Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant appointed chief of staff in place of Ashkenazi.
Barak wanted Galant for the post, while Ashkenazi was believed to have wanted a fifth year in the job for himself.
The document was leaked in 2010 to Channel 2 and was later discovered to have been forged. While Galant was tapped by the government as the next chief of staff, he ultimately lost the appointment due to an unconnected land affair involving his home in Moshav Amikam, near Zichron Ya’acov.
On Friday, Military Advocate- General Brig.-Gen. Danny Efroni asked Lindenstrauss to turn over all of the material collected during the state comptroller’s review of the affair to see if there were any criminal implications from the perspective of the IDF.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.