TEL AVIV (Agencies): Reporting in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz offers the most significant evidence to date that Israel killed its own citizens in an effort to prevent Hamas fighters from returning to Gaza after the Palestinian group’s armed operation.

A report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has claimed the IDF invoked the controversial Hannibal directive during Hamas’ October 7 attack last year, deliberately killing Israelis to prevent them from being taken hostage by Palestinian fighters.

“Documents and testimonies obtained by Haaretz reveal the Hannibal operational order, which directs the use of force to prevent soldiers being taken into captivity, was employed at three army facilities infiltrated by Hamas, potentially endangering civilians as well,” read an article in the liberal paper’s Sunday edition.

The newspaper notes the exact number of Israelis killed by IDF fire is unknown. The report cites testimony from servicemembers up and down the IDF chain of command, including soldiers and mid- and senior-level officers.
An IDF spokesperson said internal investigations into the incident were ongoing.

Highly controversial within and outside of Israel, the so-called Hannibal directive was devised in response to the threat of armed groups gaining leverage over the Israeli state through the taking of hostages. Palestinian forces took several Israelis captive during the 1970s and 80s, successfully negotiating the release of Palestinian prisoners in return. The notion Israelis were “better dead than abducted” led to the creation of the protocol, which allowed the use of deadly force.
Claims of the invocation of the Hannibal directive on October 7 were made months ago when it was revealed an IDF brigadier general instructed a tank to shell a house in Kibbutz Be’eri with a number of Israelis and Hamas fighters inside, killing 13 Israeli captives. But Sunday’s report is the most complete accounting to date of accusations of friendly fire.

The allegations add to claims Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has deliberately placed Israeli citizens in harm’s way in order to pursue the Likud party’s vision of territorial maximalism. The response to Hamas’ October 7 attack was reportedly delayed for hours because Netanyahu had redeployed soldiers to support Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu’s government received urgent warnings from Egyptian authorities in the months leading up to Hamas’ attack that the Palestinian group was likely planning a significant armed operation, it has been revealed. Israeli reconnaissance of the Gaza Strip, broadly considered “one of the most heavily surveilled places in the world,” showed Palestinian fighters were training in the use of hang gliders that were used to breach the enclave’s border fence.

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