In his first response to the highly critical Harpaz report, the IDF chief of staff said Monday that he intended to take appropriate action over its findings of shocking feuding between his predecessor and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, but insisted that there is no confusion over the army’s subordination to the government.
Referring to the alleged misconduct of his predecessor as IDF chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi — as reported by the State Comptroller on Sunday — Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said that forbidden lines had been crossed. “Inappropriate steps were taken from the point of view of command, values, and ethics,” he said. “I can’t accept that behavior.”
Gantz clarified, however, that he doesn’t intend to take sides in the furor surrounding the report.
“It is a sad day for the IDF, for the state of Israel, for the citizens, and for everyone caught up in the affair.”
The report, released on Sunday afternoon, was the culmination of nearly two years of investigation into the alleged misconduct of Ashkenazi and his staff in trying to influence the nomination of the next chief of staff. Ashkenazi was accused of being involved in the planting of a forged letter by Col. Boaz Harpaz, which aimed to smear the top candidate, Yoav Galant, in 2010.
The report also highlighted a disjointed relationship between Harpaz and Defense Minister Barak, leading to questions about whether or not the army fully recognized its position of being under the command of the political leadership.
“I stress again, there is no misunderstanding on the hierarchy of the government and the army. We are happy to know that we are the army of the state, and not an army state. We will continue to fulfill the directives of the political leadership,” Gantz said.
Gantz, who was a major general during Ashkenazi’s tenure as chief of staff, coined the phrase, in reference to the incident, that there was “a stinking carcass in the room that hasn’t been dealt with thoroughly.” In his response to the report Monday, he demonstrated his intention to move on by returning to the allegory.
“I understand that the carcass is dried out,” he said. “If we need to pick out a few more bones and sweep the yard, then that is what we will do. I have no intention of looking back.”