What is Hannibal Directive?

1 min read
What is Hannibal Directive? Blog Image


According to a recent report the Israeli military reportedly employed the Hannibal Directive during the October 7 attack by Hamas.

About Hannibal Directive:

  • It is a purported operational doctrine of using maximum force to ensure no soldiers are captured, even if it means sacrificing military and civilian lives, a media investigation has found.
  • It is also known as Hannibal Procedure and Hannibal Protocol.
  • The expression refers to a purported Israel Defence Forces (IDF) operational policy that aims to pre-empt politically painful prisoner swaps by immediately eliminating everyone in the vicinity of a captive Israeli soldier, even if it poses a risk to the soldier himself.
  • The full text of the purported doctrine has never been published, even though its existence has been an open secret that has long been discussed by soldiers and analysts.
  • It is believed that the policy was named after the Carthaginian general Hannibal, who apparently chose to kill himself when faced with the possibility of capture by the Romans in c. 181 BCE.
  • Origin of the doctrine
    • The Hannibal Doctrine was formulated as a response to the Jibril Agreement of 1985 in which 1,150 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for three Israelis who had been seized in Lebanon by the Syria-based militant group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC).
  • Criticism: The Hannibal Doctrine has been criticised by legal experts for its disregard for human life. 

Source: Death before capture: What is Israel’s Hannibal Directive?