Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was left furious after learning that former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi revealed top secret information to a minister and a journalist, according to recordings cited in a report by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein released Wednesday.
As part of the investigation that led to Wednesday’s closing of the so-called Harpaz affair, in which Ashkenazi was accused of plotting to influence the nomination of his successor, Weinstein and his staff listened to hours of recordings of phone and other conversations Ashkenazi made during his time as military leader.
Among the recordings, the report by Weintein said, was an instance in which Ashkenazi revealed details of a security operation to a government minister who did not have the required clearance. The operation he discussed was carried out in preparation for a future mission.
Ashkenazi also revealed to Channel 2 analyst Ehud Ya’ari the details of a different secret operation by one of Israel’s security agencies, and revealed details of a secret weapon he was not supposed to discuss, the Hebrew language Walla news website reported.
Netanyahu was quoted by Walla as calling the incidents “the scandal of all scandals.”
In his report, Weinstein also criticized the “overly comfortable” manner in which Ashkenazi spoke to journalists.
According to Weinstein’s report, Netanyahu responded “very harshly” to Ashkenazi’s conduct, as some of the information he revealed was considered part of a top secret military operation that was still ongoing. Ashkenazi, Walla said, revealed some parts of the plan to the minister so that the minister would support his point of view on the matter.
Weinstein determined that Ashkenazi did not leak the entire plan, but only revealed specific details.
The issue of Ashkenazi’s relaxed approach to classified information was previously raised by former Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin in a closed meeting, Walla said Wednesday.
“I read what reaches the [IDF] censor, and I tell you that people here in the State of Israel are blabbering endlessly and revealing the most sensitive secrets,” Diskin said. “You don’t get to read it [in the papers] because it stops at the censor, but the fact that it reached the censor shows that someone told someone who shouldn’t know.”
In an interrogation at Weinstein’s office, the military’s head of information security said, upon seeing the transcripts of Ashkenazi’s conversation: “Given the importance they place on secrecy in the intelligence community, such a revelation would be viewed seriously — to the point of it being breach of trust, and just cause to remove a person from their post.”
Weinstein decided that while Ashkenazi may have been disciplined had he still been in the army, there was no room to serve a criminal indictment against him on the matter today.