Libya: Hafter’s Son in Israel to ask for support to his father

Libyan renegade General Khalifa Hafter has sent his son to Israel to ask for political and military support, Israeli journalist Yossi Melman revealed yesterday in a report published by Haaretz.

Last Monday, a private jet took off from Dubai landed at Ben Gurion airport, Melman wrote in Haaretz, adding:

“The plane was on the ground for about 90 minutes, and then continued on to its final destination in Libya,” noting that it belonged “to the Libyan warlord Gen. Khalifa Hafter and is used to fly his family and aides.”

On Monday, the son of Khalifa Hafter landed in Israel on a private jet as reports continue to swirl about the possibility of the Libyan military commander promising an agreement to normalize relations with Israel after Libya’s coming elections.

A report in Haaretz on Sunday said that Saddam Hafter was on the plane, which landed in Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for 90 minutes before lifting off again.

Though it is unknown who he met while on the ground in Israel, his father Khalifa Hafter has in the past reportedly met with members of Israeli intelligence.

Melman said that during his secret meeting, Saddam asked for military and political support as he is running in the presidential elections, noting that Libya would normalise ties with Israel should he win the presidency.

Libya and Israel currently have no diplomatic relations, but, according to Haaretz, Hafter has promised that he would launch a recognition process akin to that carried out by the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco last year, in exchange for “military and diplomatic assistance” from Israel.

Itay Blumental, military correspondent to Israeli Channel 11, on Monday first tweeted that a P4-RMA plane belonging to Hafter took off from Dubai and headed to Tel Aviv. He said it would later take off for Egypt.

A former CIA asset, Hafter, returned to Libya following the country’s 2011 uprising and served in the internationally recognized government until 2014 – when the country’s many fractures became more deeply entrenched with the outbreak of the second civil war since the fall of former ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

In 2019, Hafter mounted a 14-month assault on the capital, Tripoli, to oust the internationally recognized government.

Fighting soon devolved into a proxy conflict with his Libyan National Army (LNA) receiving support from Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Chadian and Sudanese fighters, as well as mercenaries reportedly from the Wagner Group.

Hafter was eventually pushed back after Turkey intervened, with Ankara deploying Syrian fighters, combat drones, and military equipment to support the government in Tripoli.

In September, Hafter said he was stepping down from his military role for three months, a move widely interpreted as indicating a bid for the presidency.

Among his opponents in the December presidential elections is Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the former Libyan ruler.

The Israeli journalist said Khalifa Hafter has held several secret meetings with representatives from Israel’s Mossad agency and from the Israeli National Security Council.

Melman added that Israel has always been interested in Libya due to its geostrategic location on the Mediterranean, as it’s Egypt’s neighbor, and because it’s home to a large Jewish community.

A report by Israel Hayom said that both candidates had hired an Israeli consulting firm ahead of the poll, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.