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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/3/14

The Hannibal Directive: How Israel Killed Its Own Troops and Massacred Palestinians to Prevent Soldier's Capture

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Cross-posted from AlterNet

The following is Max Blumenthal' s latest report from the Gaza Strip.

Kamal and Dima Qadan display some of the munitions that fell on Rafah when Israel invoked the Hannibal Directive.
Kamal and Dima Qadan display some of the munitions that fell on Rafah when Israel invoked the Hannibal Directive.
(Image by Photo Credit: Dan Cohen)
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In the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Aug. 1, 2014 is known as Black Friday. This was the day the Israeli military bombarded the city with almost every mode of destruction available to it, from F-16 missiles to Apache rockets to naval shelling to drone strikes and mortars.

Bulldozers ripped down homes at random while tanks barreled through neighborhoods, shelling anything in sight. In a matter of hours, at least 500 artillery shells and hundreds of missiles were dumped on the city, almost entirely in civilian areas. By the end, at least 190 people had been killed, so many that unequipped local hospitals were forced to store their corpses and body parts in ice cream coolers.

The target of the operation was not necessarily Rafah's civilian population, though attacking it was part of the Israeli military's underlying logic. Instead, the army apparently aimed to kill one of its own. Indeed, Israeli forces had invoked the Hannibal Directive, opening up an indiscriminate assault on the entire circumference of the area where one of its soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin, was allegedly taken captive by an ambush team from the Hamas military wing known as the Qassam Brigades.

It was one of possibly three instances during Israel's 51-day war with Hamas that it initiated the Hannibal Directive. This is a procedure aimed at preventing a politically painful prisoner swap by killing the captured soldier before he can be spirited away to a safehouse. In each case -- another confirmed instance occurred in the eastern city of Shujaiyah -- the Israeli military deployed massive fire against Gaza's civilian population, massacring hundreds and leaving entire neighborhoods in ruins. And in each instance, it ensured that none of its soldiers were taken alive.

The Hannibal Directive was established in 1986 following the Jibril Agreement, a prisoner exchange in which Israel traded 1,150 Palestinian prisoners for three Israeli soldiers. Amidst the political backlash, the Israeli military drafted a secret field procedure to prevent future kidnappings. The proposed operation drew its name from the Carthaginian general who chose to poison himself rather than be held captive by the enemy. Among those who drafted the doctrine were Asa Kasher, a Tel Aviv University philosophy professor who serves as a house "ethicist" for the Israeli military, and Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former National Security Adviser for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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