Israel’s Leading Paper Says Its Own Army Deliberately Killed Israelis on October 7. But US Media: Silence

By Editor

 JULY 11, 2024 –

The Chief of the General Staff in a conversation with soldiers of the Artillery Corps. IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

By James North / Mondoweiss

Three days ago, Israel’s leading newspaper, Haaretz, published the results of its thorough, comprehensive investigation into what actually happened when Hamas attacked on October 7. So far, the U.S. mainstream media has not said a word about the shocking results of that investigation. Critics sometimes use the expression “media malpractice” to describe the American mainstream’s failure to report accurately about Israel/Palestine. This time, though, what’s happening is even worse; it has to be deliberate self-censorship, designed to hide the truth from the U.S. audience.

Haaretz’s long report found that Israel’s army had employed the “Hannibal Directive” on October 7. The Directive is an Israeli policy that instructs the military to open fire on its own soldiers to prevent them from being taken captive. Of course, this site, alongside other alternative media sources, was one of the first to point out the possible role of the Hannibal Directive in Israeli deaths on October 7. But the Haaretz report was significant in the number of military sources it interviewed who confirmed that there were direct orders to implement the Directive.

Haaretz explained that the policy has “the intent of foiling kidnapping even at the expense of the lives of the kidnapped.” At first, the army started deploying “Ziks,” unmanned assault drones. Later, the army fired mortars, and then artillery shells. Haaretz also confirmed that the military did know that Israeli civilians had also been taken hostage, but, nonetheless, at 11:22 a.m. the order came down: “Not a single vehicle can return to Gaza.”

The Haaretz report is cautious, but it still concludes: “[The 11:22 a.m. message] was understood by everyone. . .  At this point, the IDF was not aware of the extent of kidnapping along the Gaza border, but it did know that many people were involved. Thus, it was entirely clear what the message meant, and what the fate of some of the kidnapped people would be.” 

In other words, some — possibly many —  of the Israeli deaths that day, including civilians, were deliberately caused by Israel’s own military. How this is not news is incomprehensible. But, three days later, in the New York Times: not a word. The Washington Post: nothing. CNN: nothing. National Public Radio: nada.  

Instead, if you plug “Hannibal” into the search engines at these media sites, the results only mention “Hannibal Lecter,” the fictional serial killer who was the subject of a book and popular film.

But there’s nothing new about the Israeli military’s Hannibal Directive. (The doctrine is probably named for the Carthaginian general who fought Rome in 200 B.C., who said he would swallow poison instead of surrendering. Some Israeli sources claimed that the name was randomly generated, an assertion that prompts skepticism.) 

Way back on October 22, this site reported :

“A growing number of reports indicate Israeli forces responsible for Israeli civilian and military deaths following October 7 attack.”

Then, last March, the estimable Jonathan Ofir also posted here that an actual Israeli soldier, Captain Bar Zonshein, had admitted to “firing tank shells on vehicles carrying Israeli civilians.”  

The even more comprehensive Haaretz investigation should have prompted a reaction from the mainstream U.S. reporters who are stationed in Israel. American journalists should have been cultivating their own sources since October 7, and been ready to at least match the Haaretz article. Instead, the only response so far has been a panel hosted by Piers Morgan, and a Mehdi Hasan/Bassem Youssef podcast

I’ve followed the U.S. media coverage of Israel/Palestine closely for more than a decade now. Continuing to hide Israel’s deployment of the Hannibal Directive on October 7 is one of the most offensive examples of self-censorship that I can recall. The mainstream’s dishonesty is just one more example of why alternative websites are indispensable. 

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at @jamesnorth7