General Khalifa Haftar launched Operation Dignity on May 16, 2014 in the eastern city of Benghazi. Since then he has constantly attacked armed groups alleging he is aiming to liberate the city from terrorism and Islamist control. Derna and Benghazi’s Shura Council has openly opposed Haftar. Haftar is attacking any group who opposed him or who he believed to be a threat to his power. Haftar’s war is indiscriminate to children, women and civilians. Ganfouda has particularly been under significant attack because its residents have remained steadfast not to support Haftar and his forces.
Online News Reports on Operation Dignity:
On July 14, 2016 General Khalifa Haftar’s forces dropped leaflets from helicopters on the families of Ganfouda. The Leaflet read as follows:
An Important Announcement
To all the families located in the Ganfouda area, “The Dignity Operations Room” calls for all the families to leave the area in (48) hours in order to maintain their safety. The families are to leave via the Benghazi/Tripoli roadway and will be accompanied by the Libyan Red Crescent.
Anyone who violates these instructions will be held responsible for their acts.
“The Warning is Served”
“The Dignity Operations Room” of the
“Arab Libyan Armed Forces”
Soon after Haftar’s forces issued a public statement as follows:
(SEAL) The General Leadership of the Armed Forces
In Regards to the Families Captive/Caught in the area of Ganfouda
The General Leadership for the Arab Libyan Armed Forces and over the passing of the recent months tried to avoid fighting in the areas of communities and families and has succeeded in doing so to a very large extent. And it has taken all the military and civilian measures to evacuate the families and foreign workers in the area of Ganfouda. Until now, the terrorist groups have prevented the families and civilians from leaving and use them as human shields and as an obstacle to stop the military groups from advancing to their last corners. The news outlets they have, started releasing completely false information with the goal of tarnishing the reputation of the Armed Forces and its holy war against terrorism and to find an escape for the terrorists by sea.
The General Leadership for the Arab Libyan Armed Forces considers the families and all civilians stuck in the area of Ganfouda as prisoners of war in the hands of the terrorist organizations and we lay full responsibility on them, legally, morally and humanitarily for their wellbeing and safety. And all concerned relevant entities have to take record of this as a war crime. The Red Crescent should repeat its efforts to pull them from the terrorists, by coordinating with the military operations rooms to execute all necessary steps to pull the civilians and families out from the fighting areas immediately.
Signature + SEAL
The General Leadership of The Arab Libyan Armed Forces
The Red Crescent announced that it had no prior awareness of this arrangement to escort families out of Benghazi and towards Tripoli.
There are many cases of kidnappings and deaths along the roadways to Tripoli that are dominated by hostile militants. The families refused to act on these leaflets citing their serious worries about their safety and have been advised not to act on these leaflets or public statements until a secure and monitored evacuation by sea that includes a ceasefire is agreed upon and confirmed.
Future statements issued by Haftar military officials has in hindsight shown that these initial statements were attempts to capture the families by drawing them outside of the protection of the local armed group.
In late August 2016 Haftar’s well-known Tribal Relations Advisor and Dignity militant factions violence promoter, Belaid Shikhi, held a press conference on the Tobruk Government’s Official TV Channel, “Al Rasmia”. He announced passage for children but accuses all children, women, elderly, and males of 14 years and older of affiliation with Daesh (ISIS) and that all males 14 and older would be executed, “guaranteed”, as he repeats it twice. Haftar’s forces are inciting violence and war crimes on official government-controlled television and there has been no retraction by any officials.
(0.24) “These are safe passages if these old women (used derogatory words) will bring their small Daashis (children) to get out to safe area but they all will be provided with a fair trial…
(0:46) “Do not tell me about human rights or any other talk. Courtesy and other nonsense talk is not accepted by us. I am offering Daishi (women) to take their children and get safe passage but they will be handed to the international justice organization or whatever it is called or human rights organization and this nonsense. Hand them over… But, whoever is above 14 years of age will no never get out alive…at all…at all (crowd cheering) be sure of this. Anyone below 13 years we will them out and hand them over to the concerned authorities. As for anyone who is above 14 years or older, he will never exit alive at all.”
Dr. Wolfram Lacher, Libya researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, tweeted on Aug 29 confirming this press conference and its call for the murder of all persons above the age of 14.