Ashkenazi slams 'inaccurate reports'

Chief of General Staff has "something to say" after 'Galant probe.'

ashkenazi 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
ashkenazi 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
The police investigation into the “Galant document” affair has reached the office of IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who was recently questioned over the matter.
Ashkenazi told police that he had been in possession of a copy of the document before Channel 2 first brought it to the public’s attention during a broadcast on August 6. He handed the document over to the investigators after the Channel 2 broadcast.
RELATED:Analysis: 'In the care of worthy commanders'
IDF Chief had Galant document for weeksAnalysis: Ashkenazi tries to save face
Late Tuesday night, Ashkenazi released a statement slamming what he said were inaccurate press reports, denying a report that he had transferred the document to Military Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit so he could analyze it and decide whether there were criminal ramifications.
“In accordance with a request by the police inspector- general and the investigation team, we are not passing on information on the investigation to IDF commanders or the public. This, despite the fact that the media is, unfortunately, publishing half-truths and inaccurate information,” Ashkenazi said in a statement made available by the IDF Spokesman’s Unit.
The chief of staff added that at the end of the investigation, he “would have something to say” about the affair.
A letter from Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to Mandelblit, made available to the media on Tuesday evening before Ashkenazi issued the statement, said Mandelblit had not received the document before it was aired on Channel 2, contradicting reports that appeared earlier in the day.
The Galant document purports to show that Arad Communications, a public relations firm, drew up plans to damage the reputations of senior IDF officers in a bid to promote OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s candidacy to succeed Ashkenazi as chief of General Staff.
Police are seeking to ascertain whether the document was forged, and whether army or public officials misused their offices to create it or leak it.
News that Ashkenazi was in possession of the document for several weeks before Channel 2’s report rocked the IDF on Tuesday, and was called “earth-shattering” by several senior officers and defense officials.
Some IDF officers have asked why Ashkenazi didn’t confront Galant with the document’s content before Channel 2’s broadcast.
Some have also asked why Ashkenazi did not bring the document to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s attention.
The assessment within the army is that the police investigation will now focus on Ashkenazi’s office, as well as possibly on IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu, who has denied allegations that he was involved and who sent a letter to members of the General Staff this week saying that he had never seen the document before it was published.
The News First Class Web site said police have bugged some people who work in Ashkenazi’s and Benayahu’s offices, and in the offices of IDF major-generals who are candidates for the position of chief of staff.
If it turns out that the document was forged, Galant will be cleared of any wrongdoing and will again be a front-runner to replace Ashkenazi, who is scheduled to step down in February. The attorney-general has ordered Barak to refrain from choosing a new army chief until the investigation is completed.
Police released a statement on Tuesday afternoon warning that media speculation was harming the investigation, and criticizing reports that Ashkenazi had been questioned.
“We would like to clarify at this stage that the investigation is being managed under a total media blackout in order to safeguard the interests of the investigation. The investigation is at its height and has not yet ended,” police said.
“Therefore, the various and many reports accompanying the investigation... could disrupt and harm the people whose names are being raised in the reports, without any basis,” the statement continued.
Police urged the media to “wait for the end of the investigation, which is based on facts and evidence. We are seeking to complete the investigation as quickly as possible, while maintaining the appropriate levels of professionalism and sensitivity that are needed.”
Channel 2’s Amnon Abramovitch, who originally reported on the document, told Army Radio on Tuesday that police suspected it had been forged by people at the helm of the IDF.
The suspects allegedly pasted the logo of Arad Communications onto the document, Abramovitch said.