IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Sunday suspended Lieutenant Erez Wiener from IDF service. Wiener was the aide to former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who has been accused of trying to “dig up dirt” on outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak as part of Ashkenazi's personal feud with Barak.
Wiener was singled out for sharp criticism in a report released last week by acting State Comptroller Yosef Shapira on what has become known as the “Harpaz Affair,” named for Boaz Harpaz, a former IDF officer who was a close friend and confidante to Ashkenazi. In the report, Shapira wrote that the poor relations between Ashkenazi and Barak interfered with the proper running of the army. Wiener, the report found, capitalized on and even inadvertently encouraged the deterioration of the relationship between Ashkenazi and Barak, and Harpaz, who apparently had free access to Barak's office and staff, was sent in to find out information Wiener could use against Barak, the report said.
Weiner encouraged Harpaz to delve into the Defense Ministry and try to find “dirt” on Barak. In one instance, for example, Wiener asked Harpaz to find out if members of a delegation sent by Barak to the U.S. were flying business class, after the Defense Ministry refused to allow Ashkenazi's people to fly in business class. Harpaz, an IDF officer who had resigned, was a civilian who apparently had extensive access to personnel, offices, and information in the Defense Ministry. The report advises a thorough review of who is permitted access to what information in the IDF and the Defense Ministry.
Although, the report said, Ashkenazi was to some extent aware of Harpaz's role, Weiner made sure to keep his boss from direct involvement in any of the events or discussions. The report recommends that the IDF conduct a thorough investigation into Wiener's behavior in the case.
Wiener was apparently informed of Gantz's decision last Wednesday. At a meeting, Gantz told Wiener that he sees the accusations against him as “very serious,” and that there was no way he could continue to serve in the IDF unless and until the accusations against him are proven false. Wiener does not plan to appeal, a spokesperson said.