Former Israeli prime minster and defense minister Ehud Barak told Israeli police that former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi threatened him as part of what has been dubbed the Harpaz Affair.
He told the police that Ashkenazi said “you are starting a war,” before storming out of the room in one of their conversations.
The affair shook the IDF top brass when it was first reported in 2010, and tarnished the up-till-then impeccable record of Ashkenazi when he was tied to a plot to block Barak’s choice for Ashkenazi’s successor as IDF chief through an illegal smear campaign.
During the testimony given to the police, Barak detailed how his relations with Ashkenazi deteriorated when the former served as defense minister and informed Ashkenazi on his intention of a appointing a successor for him.
Barak claims that the decision led Ashkenazi’s office treat the defense ministry and Barak’s office with hostility, harming work relations.
“He did not like the decision and it was clear there would be problems,” the former prime minister said.
Barak further claimed that “the Harpaz Affair was supposed to harm me, I felt Ashkenazi was trying to hurt me.”
The former IDF spokesman and an aide Ashkenazi were recently held on suspicion of obstruction of justice in a corruption investigation surrounding the race to nominate Ashkenazi’s successor some three years ago.
Brigadier General Avi Benayahu, the former spokesman, and Colonel Erez Weiner, the former aide, were held overnight by police this March.
In requesting a five-day extension of their remands, police told the court that the two had conspired together to “gather and disseminate material to vilify army officials and politicians as part of a series of offenses, including the destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice.”
The court approved a one-day remand extension for investigators.
The “Harpaz Affair” is named after Lt. Colonel (res.) Boaz Harpaz, who forged a letter intending to cast doubt over the candidacy of Major General Yoav Galant as the new head of the military. Galant’s nomination was backed by then-defense minister Ehud Barak, while Ashkenazi preferred Major General Gadi Eizenkot.
Ashkenazi was later accused of a role in placing the letter penned by Harpaz, which ostensibly proved that Barak and his top aides were acting inappropriately in trying to promote Galant’s candidacy.
Galant was initially named as Ashkenazi’s successor, but stepped down over allegations of impropriety over property development at his home. Current chief of staff Benny Gantz was subsequently appointed, and Eizenkot became his deputy.