Police recommend charges against former-IDF chief Ashkenazi over ‘Harpaz Affair’


Israel’s police yesterday recommended that the Attorney General bring charges against former-IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi over his conduct during the so-called ‘Harpaz Affair.’

The affair centres on a document forged by Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz, which first came to light in August 2010. It exacerbated serious tensions between then Defence Minister Ehud Barak and then Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. The document, which was presented to Ashkenazi, purported to be evidence that Barak was conducting a campaign to discredit him and to build the credentials of Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant to succeed Ashkenazi. It was known that Ashkenazi supported an alternative candidate to succeed him as head of Israel’s armed forces.

The State Comptroller subsequently looked into the affair and its report in January 2013 revealed that relations between Ashkenazi and Barak were at times “disturbing and problematic.” It censured Ashkenazi for not having handed over the ‘Harpaz document’ sooner, while Barak was criticised for having obstructed senior IDF appointments. Yesterday, the police recommended that the delay in handing over the document constitute one of two breach of trust charges against Ashkenazi, who they also recommend be charged with illegally revealing classified material in briefings to journalists. However, police rejected any allegations of Ashkenazi’s involvement in forging the document or spying on Barak.

Nonetheless, if charges are brought against him, Ashkenazi will become the first IDF Chief of Staff to face prosecution. The police also recommended that a number of other former-senior military officials be charged over the affair, including former IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. (res.) Avi Benayahu and former IDF legal division head Maj. Gen. (res) Avichai Mandelblit, who is now Cabinet Secretary.

The police recommendation against Ashkenazi is the top story in most Israeli dailies today. Commentator Ben Caspit in Maariv alleges the charges are part of an “orchestrated … political assassination” of Ashkenazi, who was IDF Chief of Staff from 2007-11 and was thought to be planning to launch a political career.