A former IDF officer embroiled in a scandal that reached the top of Israel’s defense echelon eight years ago was convicted in a Tel Aviv court on Sunday, but will avoid a jail term by confessing to charges against him in a plea deal.
Boaz Harpaz, a former close confidant of former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, was indicted in 2016 on charges of forgery, fraud and obstruction of justice at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.
According to the indictment, Harpaz forged and then leaked to the press a document in an effort to influence the 2010 appointment of a successor for then-IDF chief Ashkenazi, whom police also suspected of involvement in the plot to undermine then-defense minister Ehud Barak’s choice for the top post, Yoav Gallant.
Harpaz admitted that he forged the document and made use of it. His sentence hasn’t yet been formally announced, but the plea deal calls for him to receive 220 hours of community service.
The deal also stipulates that in one year, Harpaz’s defense team will be allowed to file a pardon request that would shorten the time until the conviction legally expires.
That had been the main bone of contention, since Harpaz now works in security products trade and won’t be allowed to continue until he is granted pardon.
The case involved a document written by Harpaz that alleged that then high-ranking officer Yoav Gallant was planning to smear Ashkenazi in order to succeed him as military chief. Ashkenazi’s aide-de-camp, Colonel Erez Weiner, and then-IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu were also implicated in the affair. Weiner resigned from the army over the affair in 2013.
Barak described the affair as an attempted “putsch” by Ashkenazi, whose preferred candidate was Gadi Eisenkot (the current outgoing chief of staff), while Barak favored Gallant (who is now a lawmaker for the Kulanu party and the current housing minister).
The investigation into the high-ranking military scandal was sparked after the leaked document was first revealed on Channel 2 news on August 6, 2010.
Within days, the police determined Harpaz was the author of the document.
The case against Ashkenazi was closed in 2016 after prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to indict him. The case against Benayahu was also closed.
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.