There are new developments in the case of IDF chief of staff, Gabi Askhenzai, who I revealed yesterday was under criminal investigation for his role in the hoax Galant memo. Today, the chief government investigator in the case revealed (well, he didn’t exactly “reveal” this since there’s a gag order prohibiting Ashkenazi’s name being mentioned in the context of the case) that while the fraudulent memo provided the original impetus for the investigation, the criminal investigation concerns corrupt business dealings between the author of the memo, Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz, and Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi. During the rule of Ariel Sharon, Ashkenazi was the director general of the defense ministry and allegedly secured Harpaz arms dealing licenses which also benefited Ashkenazi’s son. Ronen Bergman in this interview (1:14 ff.) goes so far as to say that Harpaz was Askhenazi’s “spy” while the former served in Ehud Barak’s office.
This is why, when Barak refused to extend the current chief’s term, he noted the reason was “matters of ethics.” This sure sounds like it could be the reason. It also explains why Harpaz might be so indebeted to Ashkenazi that the military intelligence officer might forge a memo at the behest of his ex-go-to guy. Further, investigators have allegedly uncovered hundreds of text messages between Harpaz and Ashkenazi’s wife’s cell phone. Which would indicate that Harpaz did not act alone, but in conspiracy with Ashkenazi. If this is proven to be true, one wonders at how a chief of staff can have the sheer brazenness to believe he can act in such a way without getting caught. Don’t these guys do even the most basic internal deliberation to determine whether whatever benefit they might gain from such shenanigans is worth the price they would pay if exposed???
Lest you think that such corrupt dealings are confined to this one chief of staff, the position is known as a means to enrich its holder. Barak, himself a former chief of staff, created Ehud Barak Ltd. after his 2001 election defeat. It earned nearly $10-million over a four and a half year period through exploitation of the web of contacts he’d made in the IDF and as prime minister. Uri Blau delves into precisely the same types of wheeling and dealing on Ashkenazi’s part before he became director general. The current chief of staff also violated government protocols by refusing to acknowledge the business dealings of his son which might cause a conflict of interest when he assumed his role in the defense ministry. However, the notion that another wheeler-dealer like Barak should find Ashkenazi ethically-challenged is a bit far-fetched. It’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle…
Finally, in a particularly notorious instance, then chief of staff Dan Halutz, after he discovered the Lebanon war would break out imminently, spent more time in those few hours contacting his stock broker than he did on prosecuting the war.