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Purge Vowed as Israeli Military Purchasing Scandal Grows

<i> from Reuters</i>

Israeli military police have arrested two senior air force officers suspected of involvement in a multimillion-dollar defense purchasing fraud. Security sources say more arrests are likely.

The armed forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron, Wednesday vowed a purge as word of the scandal filled local newspapers and sent shock waves through the defense establishment.

“We will remove from our midst all this dirt until no sign remains. I am looking everywhere for anyone who might be connected with this,” Shomron told reporters.

Brigadier Rami Dotan was in the hospital, recovering from a heart attack after his arrest in October on suspicion of defrauding the Defense Ministry of $10 million in false purchases.

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Police arrested Col. Yitzhak Sar for questioning on Tuesday. Security sources said more arrests of senior officers are imminent.

Israel Television, quoting sources close to the investigation, said that Dotan and others are suspected of receiving bribes and kickbacks from American manufacturers and channeling payment for equipment never delivered to dummy companies.

The report did not name the U.S. firms.

The scandal has shocked the Israeli public and angered its military leaders.

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“Rami Dotan betrayed us all--the air force and me personally,” Israeli Television quoted air force chief Maj. Gen. Avihu Ben-Nun as saying in a message to his officers.

Despite $1.8 billion in annual U.S. military grants, Israel has tightened military spending since the 1987 outbreak of a Palestinian revolt in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, which pushed up defense costs.


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