Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Harpaz affair

The eponymous Harpaz Affair, so called after the former Lt-Col Boaz Harpaz who was an aide to former Chief-of Staff of the IDF Gabi Ashkenazi, came to light when a letter was leaked to Ch 2 News in Aug, 2010, purportedly showing that Defense Minister Ehud Barak was improperly advancing Maj-Gen Yoav Galant to replace Ashkenazi as CoS.  But, when the police were brought in it was quickly discovered that the document was a forgery.  Then it was traced to Col. Harpaz, who with his assistant Col. Erez Viner, confessed to forging the document in order to undermine Barak and his candidate for CoS Galant. 
This Affair is in the news again now because the State Comptroller has issued a Report that took 2 years to complete.  The conclusions of the Reoprt are that :1. The forged letter represented the top of the iceberg in an ongoing hate campaign between Barak and Ashkenazi, that not only endangered the workings of military-civilian interactions, but could have damaged IDF military functioning; 2.  That while Ashkenazi is not accused of having initiated the forged letter or been directly involved in producing it, he moved too slowly in reponse to it once it had been exposed.  3. Barak and his aide Koren come under suspicion for abuse of power in deliberately undermining the authority of Ashkenazi, an atmosphere that caused the Harpaz reaction. 
Although the Harpaz letter was found to be a forgery, it cast a shadow on Barak's plan to appoint Galant to replace Ashkenazi and together with other issues led to his being replaced by Lt-Gen Benny Gantz who is the current CoS.  Several high ranking officers, including Generals and possibly Defense Minister Barak himself, might come under police indictment for their actions related to this affair.  What is most disturbing is that there was a "war" underway between the staffs of Ashkenazi and Barak, the military and civilian heads of Israeli defense, while at the same time actual military actions were taking place on the ground.  How these military actions were affected, if at all, by this internecine warfare, and to what extent the military or civilian sectors exceeded their authority and carried out illegal activities is now being investigated. 
Ashkenazi was considered to be a successful CoS of the IDF and it appears that personal animosity between him and Barak led to these activities.  It sheds a bad light on Barak, himself a former CoS of the IDF, of trying to run the IDF himself while acting in a civilian capacity as Defense Minister.  Unfortunately, this story has all the earmarks of a great movie, which means it seems unreal. 


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