Israel killed its own people with “Hannibal directive” on October 7

The current Israeli government has been indifferent to the lives of Palestinian and even Israeli civilians, and instead has been driven by Netanyahu’s political calculations

July 09, 2024 by Aseel Saleh
IOF soldiers and commanders in Jabalia Refugee Camp during an operation. Photo: IOF

Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, published a report on Sunday July 7, revealing that the Israeli Occupation Forces ordered the “Hannibal directive” to prevent Hamas from taking Israeli soldiers captives. The controversial directive, also known as Hannibal Procedure or Hannibal Protocol, is an Israeli military policy that was drawn up in 1986 by Israeli army commanders after three soldiers of an Israeli infantry brigade were captured by Hezbollah.

The directive is said to be named after Carthaginian general, Hannibal Barca, who killed himself by taking a poison, so that his arch enemy, Rome, would not captivate him.

In January 2024, Haaretz interviewed Asa Kasher, the philosopher who wrote the Israeli occupation forces’ code of conduct, describing the Hannibal directive as unlawful, unethical, and horrifying, as it authorizes the Israeli occupation forces to use maximum force to prevent soldiers from falling into the hands of the enemies, which put their lives in danger.

Asa Kasher then called for an investigation on the possibility of the Israeli occupation forces’ use of the Hannibal directives during the attack launched by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, on October 7, at three army facilities near Gaza. According to what was mentioned in Haaretz’s report, a message was sent to the IOF’s Gaza Division at 11:22 am ordering that every single vehicle should be prevented from returning to Gaza. The Israeli newspaper implied in its report that those vehicles could be carrying Israeli kidnapped civilians or soldiers.

“At this point, the [Israeli army] was not aware of the extent of kidnapping along the Gaza border, but it did know that many people were involved. Thus, it was entirely clear what that message meant, and what the fate of some of the kidnapped people would be,” the report added.

While the number of Israeli soldiers and civilians who were killed as a result of the directive is still unknown, the report confirmed that “many of the kidnapped people were at risk, exposed to Israeli gunfire, even if they were not the target”.

Even after October 7, the Israeli government continued to prove that protecting the lives of Israeli citizens is not one of its objectives. Israel has indiscriminately launched heavy airstrikes on different parts of the Gaza strip for nine months killing tens of thousands of Palestinians and a number of Israeli captives.

Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, has announced on several occasions that Israeli captives have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, some of which were confirmed by Israeli media reports.

Noa Argamani, an Israeli 26-year-old woman, who was released along with three other captives in a joint operation carried out by the Israeli special forces and a US military unit in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza in June 2024, mentioned similar experiences about coming face-to-face with prospected imminent death, when the building where she was held in Gaza was struck by Israeli missiles. “I saw the missile entering the house; I was sure I was about to die. I thought that was it – but I survived,” Argmani told Israel Hayom.

Within hours of the publication of Haaretz’s report on the scandalous use of Hannibal directives on October 7, Israeli Occupation Forces carried out three massacres in Gaza in just 24 hours, killing at least 40 people and injuring 75 others.

Israeli forces have been intensifying airstrikes on Gaza, as Egypt and Qatar have been pushing the latest ceasefire talks forward. Hamas dropped a key demand stipulating Israel’s commitment to a permanent ceasefire before an agreement is signed, and opened the door for negotiations to achieve that throughout the six-week first phase of the agreement. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that a ceasefire deal must allow Israel to resume its onslaught on Gaza until its objectives are met.

Nevertheless, it seems that Netenyahu’s objectives of the war, particularly the extermination of Hamas, have become more elusive than ever, especially after the appearance of Al-Qassam Brigades’ spokesperson Abu Obaida in a televised speech on Sunday July 7, assuring that Al-Qassam fighters are intact and that thousands of new fighters have been recruited by Al-Qassam during the nine-month war.