JERUSALEM Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Calls for a committee of inquiry mounted on Monday over the findings of a 294-page report by Israeli state comptroller revealing an apparent hornets nest of intrigues between senior defense ministry and army officials in 2010.
Rumors and leak-fueled speculation by former military officials and analysts flooded the local newspapers and airwaves over Sunday 's account of what has become known as the "Harpaz Affair."
The report portrays the nation's combined military headquarters in Tel Aviv as a scene of political backstabbing and mutual loathing between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
"The murky relations between these two men, who carry on their shoulders the security of the state, are enough to undermine the public's trust in the security establishment, its heads and their mission to stand together in situations of security tests," the report cautioned.
In response, Barak's office said the "severe report" required launching a criminal investigation and a state committee of inquiry.
"The report brings up a picture of seemingly criminal behavior by the army's bureau," Barak's office said in a statement sent to Xinhua overnight, and said Ashkenazi bucked his subordination to the political echelon by working to impugn the defense minister.
According to the report, Ashkenazi's senior aide, Col. Erez Weiner, and former military intelligence officer Boaz Harpaz led the defense forces' chief to think that Barak's bureau had drawn up a plan to politically discredit him.
Ashkenazi, the report said, behaved in a "manner unbecoming an officer," in turning a blind eye to Weiner and Harpaz' attempts to surreptitiously collect information that could potentially embarrass Barak.
As well, the two collected damning details on the sexual dalliances of a particular army general, as part of the behind-the- scene scheming, Channel Two television reported Sunday night, based on police transcripts of tapped telephone conversations between Weiner and Harpaz.
Barak said that Weiner, Harpaz and others were, "according to their testimonies, the 'soldiers' of former army chief Gabi Ashkenazi throughout the affair, and he's the one who stood at the top of the pyramid. The report's findings concerning the defense minister [in comparison], can be deemed as etiquette."
Ashkenazi, in a parallel statement, said he welcomed the fact that the state comptroller rejected Barak's accusations, which including assertions that the former attempted a "putsch" against the political echelon.
As well, Ashkenazi said he regretted the criticism against his former top aide, whom he contended greatly contributed to state security, despite being forced to deal with "the harsh reality" of rocky relations with Barak's office.
The report's main criticism of Barak said he overly leveraged his authority over Ashkenazi by imposing an eight-month delay in the appointments of 170 colonels and brigadier-generals who were due for promotion, and approval of certain general staff orders.
The comptroller's report said that in so doing, Barak had " unnecessarily and significantly damaged" the army's "sound" work procedures operations and those officers slated for appointments at the time.
The deferrals continued until Ashkenazi stepped down in February 2011.
Current defense forces Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz discussed the matter with senior officers in a regularly scheduled meeting of the army's high command on Monday, according to Army radio.