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Dozens reported killed amid intense Israeli shelling east of Rafah
Watchdog slams in-fighting among Israel's top brass
Published Sunday 06/01/2013 (updated) 07/01/2013 20:38
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Ehud Barak (Reuters/Yiorgos Karahalis, File)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel's government watchdog criticized outgoing Defence Minister Ehud Barak and former armed forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi on Sunday over a relationship full of "loathing and mistrust" that had tarnished the hallowed military's image.

The findings detailed mud-slinging at the very top of Israel's defense establishment and briefly shifted local media focus away from the approaching Jan. 22 national election.

Ashkenazi and Barak, whose strained relationship was an open secret, locked horns in 2010 over the appointment of Ashkenazi's successor as military chief of staff.

Ashkenazi, a watchdog report said, had been given a letter supposedly showing that one contender had engaged a publicist to mount a campaign to discredit his rival. The document was leaked to the press and the police later found it was forged.

The scandal drew condemnation across Israel, a country with compulsory military conscription, where maintaining solidarity with the army is sacrosanct.

"Given its content and problematic implications and given the fact that he was then the commander of both officers..., Ashkenazi should have conducted a thorough probe into the document," the report said.

The state comptroller's report also said that Ashkenazi acted improperly in allowing one of his aides to gather information that could damage Barak.

The report found fault in Barak's conduct when he held up Ashkenazi's appointments of senior officers to a number of key military roles and scolded both men for not "rising above their personal differences".

"In the state of Israel, where the defense establishment is both a matter of existence and an ethos, public trust in security chiefs must not be undermined because of an intolerable relationship (full) of loathing and mistrust," the report said.

Ashkenazi was quoted in the media as saying he accepted the criticism of his conduct in the report and Barak issued a statement calling for a criminal investigation into the affair.

Barak has announced he is leaving politics after the election and, with Ashkenazi now retired from the military, the report is unlikely to have an immediate impact on their careers.

But Ashkenazi is widely believed to be interested in entering politics. Barak could return as defense minister in a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a political appointee, even without a seat in the legislature.
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1 ) AKeenReader / UK
06/01/2013 20:25
Typical corrupt and some rapist Israeli politicians. That's how Israel is governed.

2 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
07/01/2013 18:15
@ 1), Go grab a beer and calm the hell down. You don't know what the hell you're talking about (as usual). Political scandals, corruption, "back-stabbing," finger-pointing, periodic breakdowns in standards of decency ...hell, they happen in every nation. On a per capita basis, I'm damn sure for every negative episode we have in our politics you people in the U.K. have a hell of a lot more. It doesn't mean a government is rotten to the core. It just means when these problems arise (cont.)

3 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
07/01/2013 18:16
you deal with them, correct them and move on. I'm not denigrating the report; it IS very meaningful and important. It WILL be given its due diligence but believe me, although we are--from time to time--a nation of political loudmouths, antagonists, duck-for-cover-and-hide-your-butt megalomaniacs, etc. we are NOT a nation of political hacks, cronies, witch-hunters, snakes-iin-the-grass and barf-baiters. So get real and shut up.
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