Scandal Involving Defense Ministry, Officers Corps, Shocks Israel

Israel was shocked today by a new scandal involving officials of the Defense Ministry and members of the officers corps hitherto considered the most impeccable and loyally served branches of the government. Three senior Defense Ministry officials have been suspended from their jobs and are under investigation for allegedly accepting bribes, it was announced here. Officers of one army corps are also under investigation and two Defense Ministry officials attached to the Ministry’s purchasing mission in New York have been recalled for questioning over alleged corruption.

The three suspended officials are alleged to have worked in collusion with the director of Hamegader, a metal works that supplies the Defense Ministry with barbed wire, to cheat the army. According to the allegations, the plant supplied wire of a lighter weight than that specified and paid for by the Defense Ministry with the knowledge of at least one of the officials under investigation. The managing director of Hamegader was also detained for questioning in the investigation that has spread to the officers corps.

The two officials recalled from New York allegedly favored certain suppliers in return for personal advantages. They are also alleged to have set up their own supply firm which tendered bids to the supply mission of which they were employes.

BITTERNESS OVER ALLEGED FRAUD CHARGES

Today’s revelations sent shock waves through Israel, coming on the heels of the multiple indictments handed down yesterday against Michael Tzur, one-time protege of former Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir and the late Premier Levi Eshkol, who has been remanded to jail pending trial for bribery, embezzlement and fraud. (See separate story)

The thousands of Defense Ministry employes who are among Israel’s most dedicated and hard-working public servants, expressed bitterness today over the alleged fraud involving some of their superiors. They feel that the entire Ministry has been tainted by the possible criminal violations of a few persons.

Meanwhile, the Likud opposition has not been spared by the wave of burgeoning scandal. Police today notified the State List, a Likud constituent faction, that its executive-secretary, Mrs. Bath-SheVa Tuvia, is suspected of embezzlement of IL 250,000 of the faction’s funds. According to a bill of particulars given the Attorney General and the State Controller, Mrs. Tuvia, who was suspended, has returned part of the money and is seeking ways to return the rest.

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