Revealed: IDF Employed Controversial ‘Hannibal Directive’ During Hamas Incursion, Risking Civilian Lives to Deter Captivity

Jerusalem, Israel – The Israel Defense Forces’ controversial “Hannibal Directive,” a military protocol ostensibly discontinued in 2016, resurfaced during the October 7 attacks, according to recent revelations. On that day, the order led to actions that ultimately resulted in significant fatalities at Hamas-infiltrated army facilities.

Originally formulated in 1986 during Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon, the Hannibal Directive enabled the use of substantial force to prevent soldiers from being captured by enemy forces, potentially at the cost of their own lives. Despite being officially sheliterated six years ago, the recent attacks and subsequent documents suggest a reactivation of this policy.

On the morning of October 7, termed the “Al-Aqsa Flood” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration, Hamas forces executed a coordinated assault. According to Haaretz, the Israeli military received prior warnings indicating a possible incursion but did not act on them adequately. Following the outbreak of hostilities, the military reportedly issued directives authorizing widespread use of force.

Eyewitness accounts and military orders reviewed by Haaretz detail the chaotic combat that unfolded. In one stark episode, Yasmin Porat, a resident whose partner was among those held hostage in Kibbutz Be’eri, described how the military not only targeted roughly 40 Palestinian insurgents but also recklessly endangered the 14 hostages, which included children.

As details from the attack continue to emerge, figures reflect the heavy human toll: 331 soldiers and police officials were initially reported killed, with numbers later adjusted to 377. Despite the formidable response from the Israeli military, Hamas successfully killed and abducted multiple personnel right at the onset, prompting subsequent Hannibal orders across several stations including the divisional headquarters at Re’im and the Nahal Oz outpost.

In the ensuing chaos, multiple reports suggest an indiscretion in the application of the directive. At the Erez border crossing next to the IDF’s liaison office, commands were given to halt any vehicular movement to Gaza, echoing the “Hannibal at Erez” order that likely aimed to thwart kidnappings. This stern approach, amplified by the use of assault drones and heavy weaponry, extended through the day, culminating in an artillery raid near the border fence late in the afternoon.

The casualties among both military and civilian populations during the attacks raise pressing concerns over the rules of engagement and the proportionality of force used. A bereaved family member, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed a need for clarity and accountability, fearing that the directive’s aggressive nature may have inadvertently increased the death toll among Israeli civilians and soldiers alike.

These stark incidents from October 7 mark a disturbing reflection on the military and societal ethos in Israel. The use of the Hannibal Directive, brought to the fore anew, raises questions about the balance between security measures and human rights, especially under the pressure of immediate threats.

Legal and military analysts are now calling for a transparent investigation into the events and decisions of that day, aiming to reassess the necessity and impact of such military directives. The implications of these findings reach beyond immediate tactical outcomes, touching on broader themes of governance, military ethics, and the protection of civilian lives in conflict zones.

As Israel grapples with the fallout, the debate continues about how to protect its citizens and soldiers without compromising moral and legal standards. The revival of the Hannibal Directive, whether official or de facto, suggests a deep-seated dilemma about the means and ends of military engagement—a debate that is unlikely to subside as long as regional tensions persist.