Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced Sunday the formation of a governmental committee which will investigate the alleged submarine graft case, which allegedly saw Israeli officials advocating for the purchase of submarines and patrol boats in return for kickbacks.
The panel will be headed by former Tel Aviv District Court Judge Amnon Strashnov, a former IDF chief military counsel, and will also include former navy commander Avraham Ben Shushan and former Defense Ministry acquisitions director Yael Grill.
The so-called submarine affair, known as Case 3000, allegedly saw Israeli civilian and military officials advocating for the purchase of submarines and patrol boats from German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp in return for payoffs. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also accused of approving Thyssenkrupp's sale of submarines and anti-submarine warships to Egypt.
The case was under severe public scrutiny when it was first revealed, with several officials linked to the deal and being investigated over allegations of conflict of interest, bribery and corruption among others.
While the affair led to the prosecution of some of Netanyahu's associates, the prime minister himself was never a suspect in the case.
Gantz’s office said the findings of the committee will be presented within four months and will be shared with the public "transparently."
The committee is to be established under military law, which would require any citizen who is subpoenaed — including Netanyahu and his associates — to appear or face possible imprisonment.
"In light of these consultations and current information to which he is privy, Gantz has come to the conclusion that a formal inquiry by a Defense Ministry commission will be able to shed light on some of the processes that led to the procurement of submarines and patrol boats, looking at the procedures and contracting execution," the defense minister's office said in a statement.
Coalition chairman and close Netanyahu ally Miki Zohar slammed Gantz, saying his decision to establish the committee is "no less than a provocation against Likud and its leader."
"Even though Gantz knows well that Netanyahu had nothing to do with the submarine story, he is acting to besmirch him while endangering the coalition," Zohar said.
"This is yet more proof that Gantz is dragging Israel to elections during a global crisis."
Likud Public Security Minister Amir Ohana responded that he may also form a ministerial committee to probe Gantz's role in the bankruptcy of his former cybersecurity company, The Fifth Dimension.