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October 7th And The Hannibal Directive: Friendly Fire In Israel

As the Israeli Defense Forces continue their murderous rampage through Gaza which has resulted in the slaughter of over 10000 civilians so far, fresh revealing accounts from Israeli eyewitnesses of the initial Palestinian assault on southern Israel on October 7 are emerging. These first hand accounts have provided damning evidence that the IDF caused a huge number of deaths of its own people in their efforts to eliminate Palestinian militants.

This echoes the Israeli army’s highly controversial and sinister tactic known as the ‘Hannibal Directive’ in which the main objective is to eliminate the soldier (or hostage) to prevent them from being captured and used as leverage in a potential future prisoner exchange. This explanation is widely embraced within informed Israeli circles, encompassing journalists and analysts. We can see much evidence that would strongly support the implementation of this directive by the IDF in the events surrounding the October 7th Hamas militant attack.

Instituted in the late 1980s and only made public in 2003, the directive sanctioned the use of substantial force to thwart abduction attempts, raising significant ethical and legal debates both within and outside Israel. In response to concerns and following several contentious incidents, the IDF officially rescinded the Hannibal Directive in 2017, shifting towards more restrained and precise tactics in dealing with such situations. This is only formally so, and the directive may still be resorted to should the situation require it.

Kibbutz Bi’eri

On the morning of October 7, 2023, at 6:30 am, rockets were launched by Hamas forces at the kibbutz Be’eri . Subsequently, another Palestinian militant group, the DFLP, announced that its forces, organized as the National Resistance Brigades, were engaged in combat with the IDF in Be’eri. Approximately 70 militants entered the kibbutz on motorcycles and in vehicles, killing security personnel at the entrance. When the kibbutz was retaken by the IDF after heavy fighting the official death toll was stated as 130 dead with a further 5 elite Shaldag Airmen among the casualties.

Initial reports portrayed the incident as a systematic slaughter of Israeli civilians by Palestinian gunmen, whose primary intent was  to cause as many deaths as possible. However, subsequent eyewitness accounts from the survivors have cast doubt on this claim.

Yasmin Porat, a 44-year-old mother of three and a survivor of the initial attack, gave an interview to Haboker Hazeh radio program on Israeli Kan radio, mentioning how the Israeli army is “undoubtedly” responsible for killing many of their own civilians. This interview has subsequently been erased from the online version of radio stations website, however the website Electronic Intifada obtained and translated the interview [1].

Porat says that, prior to the arrival of IDF forces, she and other civilians at the kibbutz had been held by the Palestinians “for several hours” and treated well.

“They did not abuse us. They treated us very humanely,” Porat said, adding, “They give us something to drink here and there. When they see we are nervous, they calm us down. It was very frightening, but no one treated us violently.”

She recounted how one Hebrew speaking fighter tried to reassure her saying: “Look at me well, we’re not going to kill you. We want to take you to Gaza. We are not going to kill you. So be calm, you’re not going to die.”

“I was calm because I knew nothing would happen to me,” she added.

Moreover, Porat gave an in-depth television interview to Israel’s Channel 12 in which she reveals that although the Palestinians were heavily armed she herself never witnessed them shoot or threaten the Israeli captives.

Porat spoke of how the situation of the civilian captives worsened as soon as the Israeli forces arrived en masse. She mentions how the Israeli army entered the settlement “with a hail of gunfire,” surprising the Palestinian fighters and their hostages, adding “They eliminated everyone, including the hostages, because there was very, very heavy crossfire,”

Yasmin Porat’s first hand account is in stark contrast to the reports of a premeditated massacre that were reported in vast swathes of the media and her account discredits the official Israeli narrative of  deliberate and slaughter by  Palestinian fighters.”

Saleh al-Arouri, a high-ranking military leader in Hamas, has responded directly to Israel’s allegations that fighters under his command intentionally aimed to cause maximum civilian casualties [2].

The Israeli propaganda effort has featured sensational stories of atrocities, with no supporting evidence, claiming that Palestinians committed acts such as beheading Israeli babies and engaging in rape. Al-Arouri stated in an interview with Al Jazeera on Thursday that members of the Qassam Brigades, his organization’s military force, adhere to stringent protocols to avoid causing harm to civilians. [2 ]

Tuval Escapa, part of the security unit at Kibbutz Be’eri, established a dedicated line to facilitate communication between the kibbutz inhabitants and the Israeli military. According to his statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, when the situation became increasingly dire, “the commanders in the field made difficult decisions – including shelling houses on their occupants in order to eliminate the terrorists along with the hostages.” [3]

Israeli Television footage from October 7th shows a large number of buildings in the southern Israeli town of Be’eri completely demolished. The Israeli military personnel interviewed at the scene blamed the destruction of the buildings on Hamas fighters, who they say used rocket-propelled, and hand grenades. However, those weapons do not have the destructive capability to demolish entire multi-level buildings.[4]

Subsequently many Israeli media sources have provided detailed accounts  of how Israel’s armed forces were instructed to bombard Israeli residences and their own installations when they were besieged by combatants on October 7.

Erez Crossing

In another article in Haaretz On October 7, a sizable Hamas force took control of the nearby Erez Crossing, which was closed for the Simhat Torah holiday. The Coordination and Liaison Office, along with all outposts along the division’s line, also came under attack. With no resistance, the Palestinian militants swiftly advanced into the military base, resulting in the killing and kidnapping of soldiers from the Civil Administration. Despite this, a few of the soldiers managed to return fire before being struck.

A panicked Brigadier General Rosenfeld sought refuge in the division’s underground war room with a small group of both male and female soldiers. They made desperate efforts to rescue and coordinate the sector facing an attack. Numerous soldiers, mostly non-combat personnel, suffered casualties outside. To fend off the militants,  the Israeli military was “compelled to request an aerial strike” against its own facility inside the Erez Crossing to Gaza “in order to repulse the terrorists” who had seized control. [5]

The base housed Israeli Civil Administration officials and soldiers during the incident. These accounts suggest that directives were issued by the military’s high command to strike residences and other locations within Israel, even if it meant the loss of many Israeli lives.

Supernova Music Festival

Furthermore , subsequent to the October 7 Hamas attack on the Supernova Music festival, numerous firsthand reports have come to light from Israeli sources which corroborate how the IDF engaged in indiscriminate firing from Apache attack helicopters, contributing to the huge final death toll of Israeli civilians from so-called “friendly fire”.

One witness, Danielle Rachiel , narrowly escaped being killed after the Hamas attack on the Nova music festival. While driving to safety, Israeli security forces fired directly at her vehicle until she shouted in Hebrew to identify herself as Israeli [6] .

Recently Syrian Girl, a user on X (formerly Twitter), shared a 14 second video clip with the caption, “BREAKING: Israel admits Apache helicopters fired on their own civilians running from the Supernova music festival.” [7] The clip shows the helicopters firing on fleeing vehicles and people and has been viewed by millions on X. Subsequently a longer clip has been released by the IDF which has a length of  3 minutes.

In an article published on 15 October in Hebrew by Yoav Zitun, military correspondent for Ynet, the online outlet affiliated with Yedioth Ahronoth describes how there there was a fog of war during the first hours of October 7, not only for the IDF on the ground, but also for the air teams that were mobilised to the skies of the western Negev.

Zitun stated that “the pilots realised that there was tremendous difficulty in distinguishing within the occupied outposts and settlements who was a terrorist and who was a soldier or civilian […] The rate of fire against the thousands of terrorists was tremendous at first and, only at a certain point, did the pilots begin to slow down the attacks and carefully select the targets.” [8] Zitun provides compelling evidence that the Israeli military engaged in indiscriminate firing, aiming at both Palestinian fighters and Israeli civilians without distinction.

Zitun article highlights the case of one Lieutenant Colonel A., the commander of Squadron 190 who around mid-morning of 7 October “instructed the other fighters in the air to shoot at everything they see in the area of the fence, and at a certain point also attacked an IDF [Israeli army] station with trapped soldiers in order to help the fighters of Navy commando Unit 13 attack it and liberate it.”[8].

Zitun describes in the article that during the most intense phase of the firing it was extremely difficult to distinguish between the Hamas militants, IDF ground forces and Israeli civilians.Yet despite this the Apache helicopter pilots “…shot over the course of the day all of the ammunition in their bellies, in renewed runs to rearm. We are talking about hundreds of 30 millimeter cannon mortars (each mortar is like a hand grenade) and Hellfire missiles,” he adds [8].

“The frequency of fire at the thousands of terrorists was enormous at the start, and only at a certain point did the pilots begin to slow their attacks and carefully choose the targets”[8].

It is more plausible that the disturbing images of charred bodies disseminated by Israel and its advocates, purportedly indicating Hamas atrocities, were the result of helicopter-launched heavy-caliber shells or Hellfire missiles, rather than the lighter weapons typically observed in the possession of Palestinian fighters.

It is crucial to scrutinise and determine the party responsible for the majority of the death and devastation. From the evidence we have provided it appears that it is highly probable that the ‘Hannibal Directive’ is alive and well, and very much a part of IDF tactical policy. Certainly a significant aspect in the next phase of the conflict will be the fate of more than two hundred Israeli captives, soldiers, and civilians. From the precedent that is being set by the Israeli Defence Forces current ‘scorched earth’ policy, the survival of those hostages is precarious at best.

Certainly, the collected testimonies suggest that, during the intense conflict, Israeli forces probably turned to indiscriminate firing into residential areas and homes, leading to an undisclosed number of avoidable Israeli fatalities. This becomes particularly significant because these Israeli civilian and military casualties are currently being cited as justification for the wholesale destruction in Gaza and the loss of tens of thousands of lives, a vast majority of whom and women and children.



Tariq Kurd was born and grew up in Hertfordshire. His family is originally from Halabja, Kurdistan but due to periodic migration currently reside across the Baluchistan region.
He has a BA Hons. in History from the Open University. Besides English, Tariq can speak Baluchi and Brahvi, he is also conversant in Persian and Pashto.
His has an eclectic range of interests including military and tribal history. Tariq lives in London and is currently studying Islamic apologetics through the Sapience Institute.