Photo: Yuval Linik
Uri Arad
Photo: Yuval Linik

Hannibal Directive is the beginning of fascism in Israel

Op-ed: Protocol promoting idea that a soldier's life is expendable for good of state is one manifestation of growing fascism, fed by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Eitan, the officer who didn't hesitate to enter a Hamas tunnel in an attempt to rescue Hadar Goldin, is worthy of praise despite the fact that he acted against orders. His act of determination to implement the moral code taught to generations of soldiers showed that some still believe that no soldier should be left behind.



Entirely opposite in intent, were the IDF's actions in Rafah that were more or less to achieve the same goal, but through the means of the 'Hannibal Directive'. Though it has never been confirmed by the military or any official member of the political echelon, numerous reports in the media say that the protocol calls for preventing the capture of a kidnapped soldier even at the risk of his life.


Professor Asa Kasher has been interviewed by the media several times since Goldin's death, and he has expressed severe doubt of the definition of the 'Hannibal Directive' as preventing capture at any and all cost. According to Kasher, the directive is indeed meant to try to foil attempts at capturing a soldier, but most certainly not by putting the captured soldier in danger.


Israeli artillery firing on the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge. (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Israeli artillery firing on the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge. (Photo: AFP)


If fact, the exact opposite is true, according to the professor. He says that it's better for a soldier to be captured than killed and that the goal of the directive is to avoid future political maneuvers to bring the soldier back home. As such, the order is unfounded and grossly immoral.


The bare truth is that the presentation of the protocol in the media was exactly correct. As depicted in the reports, the directive promotes the idea that a soldier being captured is "unacceptable under any and all circumstances".


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Even if Asa is right about the intent of the directive, the practical interpretation of the procedure is that the capture of a soldier should be prevented even at the risk of his life, constituting a breach of trust towards the soldier and his family and the renunciation of the state from its obligation to do everything to keep its soldiers alive.


There are no parents who would prefer their son's death over his capture. An attempt to prevent a soldier's capture at the cost of his life is a moral crime based on a fascist view of the world, showing preference to the country over the individual. It's true that the individual risks his life to protect the country, but he does this with confidence that the country will do everything in order to bring him or her home safely and most certainly without putting a gun at his back.


As someone whose plane fell in the Yom Kippur War and spent time as a prisoner in Egypt, I can testify that the assumption that the government will do everything to bring its soldier's home alive was an indisputable axiom. The 'Hannibal Directive' represents a radical change from this way of thinking that propped up the value of human life.


Even if this is not the stated intention of the protocol, the manner it which it is presented and apparently carried out explicitly indicates the reversal of these key values. No longer is the sanctity of the life of the individual important. Now, in place of the government serving its citizens, it is the citizens who are forced to pay with their lives in order to serve the interests of government. This is simply called fascism.


The extreme right still hasn't come to power, but there's no doubt that this fascist world view has capture the hearts of many. Israeli society succumbs to radicalism quickly when acts of racism, silence, incitement, exclusion of minorities, and violence against Arabs and leftists are commonplace.


The burning of Mohammed Abu Khdeir while still alive and the boycott of Israel Prize laureate Gila Almagor for daring to his family should disturb the sleep of every Israeli who still has some connection with his conscience. Under these circumstances, it is no surprise that the Hannibal Directive passes without raising any doubts.


These things do not happen in a vacuum. Today the dominant discourse in Israel belongs to people with an extreme, nationalist worldview and the responsibility for this rests primarily with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This shift in Israeli society is happening under his watch and his contributions have been many and significant throughout the years of his leadership.


His flattery of fascist rabbis, his path of de-legitimization against the left who's "forgotten what it means to be a Jew", his vanity and arrogance toward Mahmoud Abbas, his continuing support of settlement construction and racist legislation, his tireless use of techniques of fear and his failure to unequivocally condemn manifestations of racism, violence and fascist ideas, allow them to bloom and blossom.


I would like to think that Netanyahu himself is not a fascist in his consciousness and behavior which, at least in part, is due to his natural instinct to ensure his political survival. However, one day soon he may find that he can no longer control the flames threatening to burn down Israeli democracy.


פרסום ראשון: 08.12.14, 15:01
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