After an investigation that last over five years, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday closed a corruption case against former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi, after prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to indict him for his alleged involvement in the high-level corruption scandal.
Ashkenazi was suspected — along with former IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu and senior aide Erez Winer — of obstruction of justice and delivering classified information to journalists in an alleged effort to influence the 2010 appointment of his successor, in what became known as the Harpaz affair.
The affair is named for former IDF officer Boaz Harpaz, who leaked a document to the press purporting to detail a plan by Yoav Galant — then an IDF general in the running to succeed Ashkenazi — to gain the nomination and smear Ashkenazi. First revealed on Channel 2 news on August 6, 2010, the police found within days that the author of the document was Harpaz, who was by his own admission “a family friend” of Gabi Ashkenazi and his wife, Ronit.
The director of the police investigative and intelligence department said at the time that even though some of Ashkenazi’s actions did not cross the threshold of criminality, they did “raise questions concerning the conduct of a public official, especially one who is in charge of the state’s security, in regard to the norms of conduct expected from such officials.”
Ashkenazi, who headed the army from February 2007 to February 2011, was found by then-comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to have acted in “a manner unworthy” of a senior officer, in his collaboration with Harpaz.
Barak claimed Ashkenazi employed “criminal” tools “to thwart the legal process of appointing a [new] IDF chief of staff and against the political echelon.”
In January 2013, Israel’s state comptroller issued a scathing report stemming from a state investigation into Ashkenazi’s combative relationship with Ehud Barak, who was defense minister during Ashkenazi’s tenure as military chief.
Ashkenazi is widely expected to attempt a political career, and has been rumored to be a potential candidate for leadership in the opposition Zionist Union party. The party has denied the rumor.