Middle East Monitor / October 24, 2019
A Challenger 604 private jet left Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening for an airport in the Jordanian capital of Amman, where it stopped for two minutes before taking off to an airport in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
After a 55-minute stopover at the Saudi airport, the plane took off, this time back to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.
Haaretz reporter Avi Scharf twitted on Wednesday that he monitored the movement of this mysterious flight through a particular application that can be downloaded on smartphones.
Flightradar24 shows that the N556US is privately owned and registered in the United States.
However, the jet’s record shows numerous movements in recent months, between Ben Gurion International Airport and Cairo International Airport.
The app does not disclose the ownership of the aircraft, indicating only that it is “privately owned”.
Many Israeli journalists raised questions on Wednesday about what the reporter revealed about the mysterious movement of the plane.
Yossi Melman, a security journalist at the Israeli newspaper Maariv, tweeted: “A mysterious flight to Saudi Arabia. The Challenger took off from Ben Gurion Airport last night, and left for Amman, where it stopped for two minutes for flight laundering, then headed towards Riyadh. After a 55-minute stopover at the Saudi airport’s runway, the plane returned to Ben Gurion Airport. ”
Using the term “flight laundering,” Melman pointed out that Saudi authorities do not allow direct flights from Tel Aviv to their territory, so planes stop in a nearby third country for several minutes and then continue to Saudi Arabia, which has no formal ties with Israel.
Melman added: “US Defence Secretary Mark Esper was in Riyadh yesterday, and I think, perhaps, a senior Israeli official, Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, or the Director of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, flew to Saudi Arabia to discuss the Syrian file.”
Scharf also asked: “Has anyone come from Israel for a quick tripartite meeting in Riyadh? I do not know,” referring to the possibility of a US-Saudi-Israeli trilateral meeting.
There have been numerous reports in recent years of Israeli-Saudi security and intelligence coordination regarding the Iranian file.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken in the past few years of “relations maintained by his government with Arab countries that do not establish diplomatic relations with Israel,” without disclosing the names of these countries.
Israel has not formally commented on the unexplained trip between Tel Aviv and Riyadh.