Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who controls the east of the Libya, has reportedly been receiving Israeli military aid following meetings with Israeli intelligence that were allegedly mediated by the United Arab Emirates.
A high-ranking military source in Haftar’s forces told The New Arab on Monday that the controversial UAE-backed military strongman has held secret meetings with the Israeli agents over the past two years.
“Coordination between Haftar and Israel has been ongoing, he held talks with Mossad agents in Jordan in 2015 and 2016,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety, said.
“The meetings, which appear to have been mediated by the UAE, were held in strict secrecy,” he said, adding that he has seen documents that reveal Haftar met with Israeli intelligence agents going by the names Ackerman and Mizrachi.
The source said that Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army [LNA] has been provided with Israeli military aid in the form of sniper rifles and night vision equipment.
“It is well-known among fighters on the ground that they are using Israeli-made sniper rifles as they are labelled as such,” the source said.
He hinted at coordination between Haftar’s command and the Israeli military in air raids conducted in Operation Dignity, the offensive against several jihadists groups which overrun Benghazi after the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Gaddafi.
The UAE along with Egypt, a close ally of Israel, have supported Haftar, whose forces are also fighting factions allied with a UN-backed government in Tripoli.
Earlier this month, Haftar met with UAE leaders for talks on military cooperation, days after announcing the retaking of second city Benghazi from jihadists.
The UN in June released a report accusing the UAE of supplying helicopters and other military aircraft to Haftar in violation of a UN arms embargo.
The UAE’s ties to Israel have recently come to light after a group of hackers accessed and published emails from the Emirati ambassador to the US, showing a growing link between the UAE and a pro-Israel think-tank.
This week, an Israeli daily reported that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan held a secret meeting in New York in 2012.
Haftar does not recognise the authority of the Tripoli-based GNA, instead backing an alternate government based in the country’s east.
An east Libyan minister was pictured last month meeting with two prominent Israelis.
Omar al-Gawairi, the Minister of Antiquities for the General National Congress in Beida attended a conference on the right of return for Libyan Jews in Rhodes, Greece.
Algerian media reported this week that Algerian authorities have sent Haftar a “strong warning” after receiving information about Israeli military support for the LNA.
French presidency said on Monday that UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj will hold talks near Paris on Tuesday with Haftar to attempt to facilitate a political agreement between the rival leaders.