State comptroller wraps up report into alleged misconduct among military brass

State comptroller wraps up report into alleged misconduct among military brass

Defense minister, former chief of staff given copies of investigation into so-called Harpaz affair

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira (Uri Lenz/Flash90)
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Israel’s state comptroller distributed copies Monday of a long-awaited report on possible corruption surrounding the stymied appointment of an IDF chief of staff in 2010.

The high-profile Harpaz affair involved the possible leaking of a forged document meant to smear a candidate for the army’s top spot, which was suspected to have come out of the office of the current chief of staff.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira handed the final version of the report to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday.

Copies of the paper were also given to the Knesset’s State Comptroller Committee, which was to decide which parts of the document would be published and which would be censored, and to Ashkenazi’s former aide de camp Col. Erez Weiner, who was thought to also be involved.

The story began with what seemed to be a leaked public relations firm’s guide as to how to advance the candidacy of the defense minister’s choice, Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, to the position of IDF chief of General Staff. Within days, it became clear that the document was a forgery authored to tar Galant, making him seem like an officer who would stop at nothing to climb the ladder to the very top.

Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz, a reserves officer in Military Intelligence and an acquaintance of Ashkenazi’s, admitted under police questioning (and subsequently retracted his admission) that the document was a forgery, leading to suspicions it had been drawn up to discredit Galant.

Ashkenazi favored a different candidate and there were reportedly rifts between his office and Barak’s.

Former state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s investigation reportedly cleared Ashkenazi of direct involvement in the forgery but questioned his decision not to pass the document on to the proper authorities. The forged document was given to Ashkenazi by Weiner, who is accused of improperly gathering information about the defense minister.

In February 2011 the government for the first time in Israel’s history revoked the already authorized appointment of a future chief of General Staff after Galant was disqualified for filing false dispositions regarding land use around his home.

The already retired Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz was instead promoted to the top of the IDF pyramid.

The investigation into the affair was carried out by Yaacov Orr, who handles military affairs at the State Comptroller’s Office.

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