The IDF’s ‘Hannibal Protocol’ and Two Criminally Insane Governments

by

The sickness of present-day Israel, on display over the past horrible month of the one-sided slaughter of nearly 2000 Palestinians (including over 400 children) in the fenced-in ghetto of Gaza, has finally reached its nadir with the ugly case of the deliberate Israeli Defense Force murder of captured IDF 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin.

According to an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, once it was determined that Goldin had been captured by Hamas fighters in the Gaza town of Rafah, the IDF initiated what it calls the “Hannibal Protocol” — the deliberate liquidation of the captive — to prevent his being used as a hostage to win concessions from Israel in future truce negotiations with the Palestinians. One reason for the almost instantaneous and ruthless Israeli decision to kill Goldin rather than attempt to rescue him, is that this captured soldier had the misfortune of being related to Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, making him a valuable prize indeed for Hamas.

And so began a massive bombardment of the entire residential area where Goldin was captured.

As Haaretz reports in an editorial [1] about this case of deliberate sacrifice of an IDF officer, headlined “What Happened in Rafah?”, the ensuing high-explosive blitz on the area didn’t just kill Goldin, but also indiscriminately killed over 150 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including many women and children. Indeed, the paper states that the IDF “…shelled and bombed houses and their inhabitants indiscriminately, and as they tried to flee homes, hit them with shells and bombs in the streets.” The fatal bombing of a targeted UN-operated school in Rafah, which was condemned by the US government and by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, who called it a “criminal act and a moral outrage,” was part of that Hannibal Protocol action.

Now recall that President Obama was quick to label the Hamas capture of Goldin “barbaric.”

The trouble is, having rather absurdly deployed that term to characterize the capture by Hamas fighters of an Israeli soldier who was at the time reportedly exploring a tunnel and trying to capture or kill enemy fighters, though, what then does Obama — what indeed does any person — call the indiscriminate slaughter of 150 civilians in the interest of eliminating one of one’s own captured soldier?

Certainly the Hannibal Protocol is in itself “barbaric” in its cool calculus of denying the enemy a bargaining chip. But that term hardly seems to capture the horror of what was done by the IDF in this case. Clearly implementing the Hannibal Protocol would have been okayed at the highest level of the Israeli government, particularly with the relative of a top government official involved. And when a military organization or a government moves beyond just killing the captive and his immediate captors to slaughtering everyone in the surrounding area, we’ve moved way beyond a word like “barbaric.”

I’m a journalist, and part of my job is being good with words, but I admit I’m at a bit of a loss here. Perhaps “criminally insane” is appropriate, but that is usually a term applied to an individual. In this case, though, we are talking about a whole government, or at least the military establishment and the senior leaders of that government, taken collectively.

The mind reels. Can an entire government be criminally insane? Certainly what happened with this Hannibal Protocol incident suggests that it can.

Recall, though, that this crime extends well beyond the borders of Israel. For the bombs and shells that were unleashed by the IDF on the people of Rafah as part of this murderous Hannibal Protocol campaign were, for the most part, manufactured and provided, at taxpayer expense, by the United States of America.

This massive war crime is thus as much a US atrocity as it is an Israeli one.

And if the Israeli government is criminally insane, so is the US government for uncritically and unthinkingly backing it.

We knew the US government and its military were criminally insane back in the Vietnam War, when we were told that peasant villages were being burned to the ground by US troops on the theory that “we have to destroy the village in order to save it.” Now we’ve moved a step further towards the depths of insanity in backing an Israeli policy of “slaughtering a village in order to kill one of our own soldiers.” Even in the moral cesspool that was America’s war on the Vietnamese people, the US military didn’t sink to that — they stopped at just slaughtering villlages.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Lawrence Ware
No Refuge: the Specter of White Supremacy Still Haunts Black America
Paul Street
Bi-Polar Disorder: Obama’s Bait-and-Switch Environmental Politics
Vijay Prashad
Regime Change Refugees: On the Shores of Europe
Kali Akuno
Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era
Arun Gupta
Field Notes to Life During the Apocalypse
Steve Hendricks
Come Again? Second Thoughts on My Ashley Madison Affair
Paul Craig Roberts
Whither the Economy?
Ron Jacobs
Bernie Sanders’ Vision: As Myopic as Every Other Candidate or Not?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and Crisis
Jeffrey St. Clair
Arkansas Bloodsuckers: the Clintons, Prisoners and the Blood Trade
Richard W. Behan
Republican Fail, Advantage Sanders: the Indefensible Budget for Defense
Ted Rall
Call It By Its Name: Censorship
Susan Babbitt
“Swarms” Entering the UK? What We Can Still Learn About the Migrant Crisis From Che Guevara
Andrew Levine
Compassionate Conservatism: a Reconsideration and an Appreciation
John Wight
Adrift Without Sanctuary: a Sick and Twisted Morality
Binoy Kampmark
Sieges in an Age of Austerity: Monitoring Julian Assange
Colin Todhunter
Europe’s Refugee Crisis and the Depraved Morality of David Cameron
JP Sottile
Chinese Military Parade Freak-Out
Kathleen Wallace
The Child Has a Name, They All Do
David Rosen
Why So Few Riots?
Norm Kent
The Rent Boy Raid: Homeland Security Should Monitor Our Borders Not Our Bedrooms
Michael Welton
Canada’s Arrogant Autocrat: the Rogue Politics of Stephen Harper
Ramzy Baroud
Palestine’s Crisis of Leadership: Did Abbas Destroy Palestinian Democracy?
Jim Connolly
Sniping at the Sandernistas: Left Perfectionism in the Belly of the Beast
Pepe Escobar
Say Hello to China’s New Toys
Sylvia C. Frain
Tiny Guam, Huge US Marine Base Expansions
Pete Dolack
Turning National Parks into Corporate Profit Centers
Ann Garrison
Africa’s Problem From Hell: Samantha Power
Dan Glazebrook
British Home Secretary Theresa May: Savior or Slaughterer of Black People?
Christopher Brauchli
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Citigroup
Norman Pollack
Paradigm of a Fascist Mindset: Nicholas Burns on Iran
Barry Lando
Standing at the Bar of History: Could the i-Phone Really Have Prevented the Holocaust?
Linn Washington Jr.
Critics of BlackLivesMatter# Practice Defiant Denial
Roger Annis
Canada’s Web of Lies Over Syrian Refugee Crisis
Chris Zinda
Constitutional Crisis in the Heart of Dixie
Rannie Amiri
Everything Stinks: Beirut Protests and Garbage Politics
Graham Peebles
Criminalizing Refugees
Missy Comley Beattie
In Order To Breathe
James McEnteer
Blast From the Past in Buenos Aires
Patrick Higgins
A Response to the “Cruise Missile Left”
Tom H. Hastings
Too Broke to Pay Attention
Edward Leer
Love, Betrayal, and Donuts
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo
David Yearsley
Michael Sarin: Drumming Like Summer Fireworks Over a Choppy Lake