Barak: This is only the beginning

Harpaz Report calls for criminal investigation, committee of inquiry against those involved, says defense minister.

barak ashkenazi 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
barak ashkenazi 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
The findings of the Harpaz Report call for a criminal investigation and a committee of inquiry against those involved, in particular former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday.
“The publication of the Harpaz Report does not signify the end of the affair, rather the beginning of the legal clarification phase, in order to reach the truth of the affair and the problems it has exposed. The report clarifies that this was a severe matter, one of the most serious scandals we have seen. What is needed now is a criminal investigation and a state committee of inquiry,” the Defense Ministry stated.
The statement adds, “The report details acts whose essence were a conspiracy to harm the political appointment process, disruption of the legal process of appointing a chief of staff, obstruction of justice, forgery, breach of trust, and conduct unbecoming of an officer. This appears to be a clear case of criminal behavior on the part of the chief of staff’s bureau.”
The Defense Ministry statement also said that the report presents Ashkenazi’s leadership as “apparently criminal,” and that he stood at the “head of the pyramid,” deploying his “soldiers” Weiner and Harpaz to carry out the subterfuge.
In his own response, Ashkenazi said he is pleased that after over two years of investigations and hundreds of witnesses, the serious charges against him were dismissed by the report, which in his words determined that “there was no putsch by the chief of staff or his associates against the political establishment.”
Ashkenazi hailed the report for clearing him of involvement in the process of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s appointment or the later cancellation of the appointment, saying that it “rules that Ashkenazi and his associates were not involved in the preparation of the Harpaz document, its forgery, or the leak of the document to the press, or that he used it as a roadside bomb to scuttle the appointment of Galant.”
In a final note towards his former aide, Ashkenazi says he “regrets the criticism being directed at Weiner, a principled and distinguished officer who devoted years of his life to the service of the State of Israel, who was required to carry out his job as aide to the chief of staff during a time of difficult and murky relations with the Defense Ministry.”
In a sprawling response to the report, Col. Erez Viner said that he read the document and was surprised by what he called the gaping discrepancy between the hours of work and hundreds of witnesses that went into it, and the thin conclusions of the report.
He said that the portion of the report that deals with him shows him to be “someone who paid and continues to pay a personal and professional price” because of the role he played in “shielding the chief of staff from the ‘din of noise’ around him and protecting him from the significant abuse that was directed towards him by the defense minister over a long period of time.”
He also said that the report leaves behind “a deep stench in the bowels of the Defense Ministry headquarters.”
Viner added that the report doesn’t answer a number of questions, including who Harpaz was working for, where he drew his knowledge of intimate details of Barak’s personal surroundings, who wrote the document, and who destroyed the recordings in the defense minister’s office.