3 thoughts on “IDF Chief Abandons Hannibal Directive Which Approved Killing Captive Israeli Soldiers – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Richard – it is more a matter of interpretation, not rogues taking the law into their own hands. The actual rank and file (and field commanders) have interpreted Hannibal as use of extreme force including killing the captive/prisoner (when the capturing force is not a regular army the term is complex). This interpretation is not impossible given the command itself, even though it is not explicitly stated.

    You also must understand that long complex commands at the staff level often boil down into “if so and so happens” – “fire at will” – when you look at how the rank and file remembers the command (including junior field commanders). In the field soldiers don’t pull out a manual each time they face a particular situation but rather react in a general fashion commensurate with what they remember from the written orders.

    Of course the written orders themselves often include multiple layers of “ass covering” which soldiers have to ignore when learning.

    Part of reason for this procedure were the lopsided exchanges (not one on one, or one to ten – but one to 1,000) in which the value of the exchanged captives were grossly against Israel and were performed against the Israeli interests due to various populist currents.

    (and the Israeli army is not a professional army – it is a regular army that utilizes conscription and reserves to fill almost all rank and file position, as well as quite a few leadership positions)

  2. @Richard
    I am trying not to be overly cynical, but it seems to me that you are somehow trying to suddenly portray yourself as a champion of the value of Israeli soldiers’ lives. I find this concern disingenuous.
    What would be your position on other situations whereby the value of soldiers life is weighed against other interests, such as international laws, protecting civilians, or other factors? Armies have conflicting duties. For example, when commanders give orders to soldiers to go into a very risky combat situation. knowing that some of them won’t come our alive. And there are other situations where the likelihood of injury by friendly fire is high. Or combat within densely populated areas when soldiers have to take excess risk of being killed in order to avoid injuring civilians. We don’t call these situations “murder”, and whatever one thinks of the directive, the term “murder” is not appropriate for the Hannibal directive either
    I know you like to use dramatic or inflammatory terms for rhetorical purposes and that’s what you are doing here.
    BTW, avoiding prisoner exchanges is not just an issue of “national honor”. It is a life or death issue. We know that a significant number of prisoners released in such deals end up being involved in terrorist attacks.
    This means that “redeeming” one captive comes at the cost of other people’s future lives. Yet the public pressure for freeing of IDF captives “at all costs” brings about these lopsided and harmful exchanges.

  3. lepxii remember that the German army (and SS) in WW2 was not a professional army – it was a regular army that utilized conscription and reserves to fill almost all rank and file position, as well as quite a few leadership positions. Should your rather unclear “military pretext” fit in that case how German army treated the civil population in occupied areas and in case of “non-uniform” resistance in that time?

    The notion that an “amateur” army is not so responsible as a professional army is a bit “strange”. A war crime is a war crime, or is it? So when Wehrmacht did shoot indiscriminately in civilian areas it was a war crime, but when the Israeli army did it it was not, because they thought some of their soldier were probably captured. Maybe the Warsaw Ghetto “final” was a German “Hannibal” operation trying to free captured soldiers and the destruction of houses plus arresting the family members was equal to the Knesset order to destroy the homes of the terrorists families. The only what differs is is the scale, the reasoning and pretext are almost equal.

    Lepxii by the way does IDF have professional Muslim and Christian clergy in its ranks or only professional “Israeli” clergy?

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