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


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).

November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration
John Wight
After Paris: Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large
Joseph G. Ramsey
No Excuses, No Exceptions: the Moral Imperative to Offer Refuge
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies
Andrew Moss
The Message of Montgomery: 60 Years Later
Jim Green
James Hansen’s Nuclear Fantasies
Robert Koehler
The Absence of History in the Aftermath of Paris
Dave Lindorff
The US Media and Propaganda
Dave Randle
France and Martial Law
Gilbert Mercier
If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
Alexey Malashenko
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Binoy Kampmark
Closing the Door: US Politics and the Refugee Debate
Julian Vigo
A Brief Genealogy of Disappearance and Murder
John R. Hall
Stuck in the Middle With You
Barbara Nimri Aziz
McDonalds at 96th Street
David Rovics
At the Center of Rebellion: the Life and Music of Armand
Weekend Edition
November 20-22, 2015
Jason Hirthler
Paris and the Soldiers of the Caliphate: More War, More Blowback
Sam Husseini
The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine
Mike Whitney
Hillary’s War Whoop
Pepe Escobar
In the Fight Against ISIS, Russia Ain’t Taking No Prisoners
Ajamu Baraka
The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
Andrew Levine
The Clintons are Coming, the Clintons are Coming!
Linda Pentz Gunter
Let’s Call Them What They Are: Climate Liars
Nur Arafeh
Strangling the Palestinian Economy
Paul Street
Verging on Plutocracy? Getting Real About the Unelected Dictatorship
Patrick Howlett-Martin
The Paris Attacks: a Chronicle Foretold
Vijay Prashad
Rebuilding Syria With BRICS and Mortar
Brian Cloughley
Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace