Mandelblit, Ashkenazi recordings from Harpaz Affair aired for first time

The Harpaz Affair dates back to August 2010

Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Recordings of Avichai Mandelblit and Gabi Ashkenazi discussing strategy in the midst of the 2010 Harpaz Affair were aired for the first time on Sunday night by Channel 13.
The cases against both of them were both eventually closed. Mandelblit is now the attorney-general, but was the IDF's chief lawyer at the time, while Ashkenazi is now a top Blue and White MK, but was the IDF chief-of-staff at the time.
The recordings portray two powerful men whose voices are filled with concern by a complex quandary which they have not yet figured there way out of.
Ashkenazi had been given a problematic forged document, but failed to report the document to the authorities because of the complex issues it implicated. When he told Mandelblit about the document, Mandelblit maneuvered with the attorney-general's office about the document without immediately revealing what he knew. However, by the next day he had told Ashkenazi that he must reveal the document, which Ashkenazi did. Although Ashkenazi discusses what he will do, he is adamant that he will tell the truth.
In May 2019, the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court concluded the Harpaz Affair, which at its height threatened to put major government officials in jail, including the defense and another minister, Ashkenazi and Mandelblit.
After years of probes and drama which 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.
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 Galant - Barak’s first choice to succeed Ashkenazi as IDF chief, but who Ashkenazi opposed.
Galant, 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, Mandelblit and former IDF chief spokesmen Brig. Gen. (res.) Avi Banayahu. They also criminally investigated Barak and questioned former 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.
A spokesperson for Ashkenazi's office said, "These are old recordings from almost a decade ago, all of which have been released several times before. Hundreds of thousands of conversations by Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi were examined and scanned by the police, the state comptroller and the attorney-general who decided to close the investigation file."
Ashkenazi’s office responded in a statement that the recordings are nearly a decade old and have been broadcast in the past. The statement said police hundreds of thousands of conversations of Ashkenazi as IDF chief of staff were checked by police, the state comptroller and the attorney-general, who decided to close the investigation.
“All of the allegations were proven incorrect,” a source close to Ashkenazi said. “I hope that would happen to any public figure, whose conversations are checked in a massive way.”
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.