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Report said to absolve Barak in 1992 army training accident

JERUSALEM, March 10 (JTA) — Findings in a report about the Labor Party candidate for prime minister may deprive his political foes of at least one piece of ammunition against him. Ehud Barak was cleared of blame in a state inquiry into a 1992 army training accident that killed five commandos and left six others injured, according to Israel Radio. While the report on Barak, who was army chief of staff at the time of the incident, has not yet been made public, a Labor Party legislator involved with the report said it absolves Barak from blame. Barak has been dogged by repeated allegations that he fled the scene of the accident without attempting to help the injured. Barak had been observing an exercise at the Tse’elim military base when a missile prematurely fired, causing the fatalities. Foreign media reports later said the unit was training for a mission to assassinate Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Shortly before Barak ended his tenure as army chief, a newspaper report raised allegations that Barak had left the scene of the accident before all of the injured were evacuated. At the time, Barak staunchly denied the allegations. An inquiry by the former state comptroller, Miriam Ben-Porat, also found no basis for the charges. Nevertheless, Barak’s political foes seized upon the incident. During one heated Knesset debate after Barak entered the Knesset, Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi dubbed him Ehud “Barach,” Hebrew for “ran away.” “Barak Fled” has been used by the Likud Party as a campaign slogan against the Labor candidate. On Tuesday, Ben-Porat’s successor, Eliezer Goldberg, submitted the more than 100-page report to the head of a Knesset committee, Yossi Katz. Katz, however, withheld immediate publication, saying he preferred to confer first with Likud Knesset member Uzi Landau, head of a subcommittee on Israel’s security services, regarding which excerpts could be released and which should remain classified.

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