To date the Israeli government has killed 14,000 Palestinians in Gaza since Oct. 7, almost half of them children. It carpet-bombed whole neighborhoods. It is not allowing 1.7 million Gazans to return to the homes.
To justify this destruction, Israel wants to make it all about what happened on Oct. 7, and not what happened since then. On that day, it says, Hamas militants charged into Israel with a mission to kill as many civilians possible in the most brutal ways. The Netanyahu regime even has a 47-minute propaganda video it shows the press and diplomats entitled “Hamas Massacre.”
One by one, Tel Aviv’s stories claims of deliberate atrocities by Palestinian fighters — beheading children, raping women, using hospitals as military bases — have been debunked.
Now, there is a growing body of evidence that many of the Israeli civilians Tel Aviv claims were killed by Palestinian fighters on Oct. 7 were actually killed by the Israeli military.
Over the last month, eyewitness testimonies and other evidence has surfaced indicating that a great many of those blasted and torched on Oct. 7, Palestinian and Israeli alike, were the victims of indiscriminate and massive Israeli tank and helicopter bombardment.
The narrative now being pieced together is that Israeli forces fired a huge amount of ordinance indiscriminately from tanks and U.S.-supplied Apache helicopters on towns as well as on cars either fleeing a rave concert or driving towards Gaza with hostages, indiscriminately killing both Palestinian fighters and the Israeli civilians. This was a desperate attempt to contain the Palestinian surprise assault and to prevent the fighters from taking live Israeli hostages. The death toll was then added to those killed by Palestinian fighters and Hamas was blamed.
By the military’s own admission, Israeli pilots could not distinguish clearly between Palestinian combatants and Israeli civilians but decided to open fire anyway. Apache helicopter pilots fired continuously without intelligence on targets. Tank crews were ordered to shell homes, even though Israeli hostages might be inside. A military commander even ordered an air attack on his own base when he learned it had been overrun by Palestinian fighters.
At least part of the indiscriminate firing appears to have been a deliberate policy called the “Hannibal Directive” under which Israel is willing to kill its own citizens rather than have them taken hostage.
Sources are eyewitnesses and military personnel
The sources for this narrative are testimonies from Israeli civilian witnesses, Israeli military participants and Israeli military analysts. Their comments were gathered from the mainstream Israeli media, including Haaretz, Israel’s newspaper of record, with the relevant information buried in the middle of articles. This information has been assembled and reported in English primarily by independent media, including The Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss and The Grayzone.
While civilian deaths during a military operation are certainly not unusual, Hamas maintains the objectives of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood were military and denies killing civilians on purpose. It is not controversial that the Palestinian resistance’s Oct. 7 assault took the Israeli military totally by surprise, that it disabled the Israeli military’s southern command, that it knocked out its high-tech surveillance, that fighters overran miliary bases and several small farm communities, and that fighters returned to Gaza with many Israeli captives in the hope of exchanging them for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
While this was going on, some 4,400 Israeli youth were attending a concert less than three miles from Gaza. The Palestinian resistance mowed them down, Tel Aviv claimed. However, an Israeli police report concluded that the Palestinian fighters had no advance knowledge of the concert, and the majority of the youth left the area before fighters arrived, as they saw shells being fired from Gaza and began to flee in in cars and on foot.
While cars were moving deeper in Israel, cars were also heading towards openings in the Gaza fence. It is likely that they had been commandeered by Palestinian fighters and containied Israeli captives.
How did the Israeli military respond to this situation?
Commander orders air strikes on his own base
When the Erez crossing, the heavily fortified checkpoint connecting Gaza with Israel, was overrun by Palestinian fighters, the base commander actually ordered an attack on his own base even though the base was filled with Israeli Civil Administration officers and soldiers at the time.
“Brig. Gen. Rosenfeld entrenched himself in the division’s subterranean war room together with a handful of male and female soldiers, trying desperately to rescue and organize the sector under attack. Many of the soldiers, most of them not combat personnel, were killed or wounded outside. The division was compelled to request an aerial strike against the base itself in order to repulse the terrorists,” senior military analyst Amos Harel explained to Haaretz on Oct. 20.
Pilots drop bombs though they couldn’t distinguish between fighters and civilians
An Oct. 15 article by Yoav Zitun, military correspondent for Ynet, the online outlet of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest circulation newspaper, describes what the air force did. The full article was translated into English by Electronic Intifada.
“After the pilots realized that inside the army stations and the settlements that were conquered [by Palestinian fighters-JC], it was very difficult to distinguish between terrorists and [Israeli] soldiers or civilians, the decision was made that the first objective of the fighter helicopters and the armed Zik [Elbit Hermes 450] drones is to stop the deluge of terrorists and the murderous masses that flowed into Israeli territory through the holes in the fence,” Zitun writes.
“Twenty-eight fighter helicopters shot over the course of the day all of the ammunition in their bellies, in renewed runs to rearm. We are talking about hundreds of 30 millimeter cannon mortars (each mortar is like a hand grenade) and Hellfire missiles,” he adds.
“The frequency of fire at the thousands of terrorists was enormous at the start, and only at a certain point did the pilots begin to slow their attacks and carefully choose the targets.”
According to the air force, “in the first four hours from the start of the battles, helicopters and fighter craft attacked about 300 targets, most in Israeli territory.”
IDF helicopters fire on concertgoers & Israeli hostages at border
This was backed up by the Israeli police, who issued a report finding that “an IDF combat helicopter that arrived to the scene and fired at terrorists there apparently also hit some festival participants,” reported Haaretz .
Israeli Air Force (reserve) Col. Nof Erez, a military consultant for Haaretz, discussed in that newspaper “how the pilots opened fire on multiple places along the border fence to prevent Hamas from taking the captives back, killing both Hamas fighters and Israelis.”
A video posted by the Israeli military Oct. 7 shows indiscriminate firing, attacks on many cars and on people fleeing cars.
Israeli tanks ‘eliminated everyone, including the hostages’
Kibbutz Be’eir is the largest kibbutz in the area and the one Tel Avis claims had the most casualties — 100 people — killed on Oct.7. There is every indication that many deaths there were the result of Israeli fire.
Yasmin Porat, a Kibbutz Be’eri survivor, said that during gun battles with Palestinians, Israeli special forces “undoubtedly” killed numerous Israelis. “They eliminated everyone, including the hostages,” she said.
Porat described “very, very heavy crossfire” and Israeli tank shelling, which led to many casualties among Israelis.
‘The objective was to kidnap us to Gaza, not to murder us’
Of the Palestinians, Porat recalled, “They did not abuse us. We were treated very humanely… No one treated us violently. … The objective was to kidnap us to Gaza, not to murder us.” The video of her Oct. 15 talk on Israel state broadcaster KAN was translated by Electronic Intifada, which also provided a written transcript.
Tovel Escapa, a member of that town’s security team, said that after the town was infiltrated by Palestinian fighters the IDF “commanders in the field made difficult decisions – including shelling houses on their occupants in order to eliminate the terrorists without knowing whether the Israelis in those buildings were alive or dead.”
Tanks shell the homes of Israelis
Haaretz writes on Oct. 10 that the army admitted “shelling” the homes of Israelis who had been taken captive. On Oct. 11, a reporter for that same media outlet interviewed Erez, deputy commander of an armored reserve battalion. He described how he and his tanks unit “fought inside the kibbutz, from house to house, with the tanks. … We had no choice,” he said.
The damage to the town was extensive. A reporter from the Foreign Ministry-sponsored outlet i24 who visited that kibbutz days later, noted that “small and quaint homes [were] bombarded or destroyed,” and “well-maintained lawns [were] ripped up by the tracks of an armored vehicle, perhaps a tank.”
A correspondent for The Guardian saw in Be’eri that “Building after building has been destroyed … nearby trees splintered and walls reduced to concrete rubble from where Israeli tanks blasted the Hamas militants where they were hiding. Floors collapsed on floors. Roof beams were tangled and exposed like rib cages.” This kind of damage cannot be explained merely by examining the light arms the Palestinian fighters carried with them.
Helicopter missiles immolated cars
Neither can the damage inflicted on the scores of burned out cars the military says were of fleeing rave concert participants and destroyed by Hamas. These burned-out cars, and some incinerated bodies in them, were brought together for photo op by Tel Aviv to show Hamas depravity. They have roofs bashed in, and are flattened or are twisted hunks of metal, showing signs of being bombarded from the air. They look very much like the devastation wreaked in Gaza by heavy Israeli weaponry.
The light weaponry that Palestinian fighters were armed with that day – rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and a few truck-mounted machine guns – cannot inflict that kind of damage to homes or cars. But tanks and areal bombardment can.
In addition, Mark Regev, senior advisor to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, admitted in an interview: “200 of the bodies that were so badly burnt we thought they were ours, in the end apparently they were Hamas terrorists.” This caused him to lower the overall death count for Oct. 7 to 1,200 Israelis.
But Hamas fighters didn’t set fire to their own bodies. It is most likely that these 200 bodies burned beyond recognition were among many others killed indiscriminately by great fire power, like Hellfire missiles dropped from apache helicopters, fire power the Palestinian fighters did not possess.
Indiscriminate firing part of the Hannibal Directive
Meanwhile, there are indications that the indiscriminate firing from Israel tanks and helicopters was not just a panic response to the surprise Palestinian attack, but at least in part, the activation of a deliberate protocol —the Hannibal Directive.
Named after the Carthaginian general who took his life rather than be captured, this Israeli military protocol authorizes massive firepower to prevent a captured Israeli soldier from being taken alive. Tel Aviv began to use began to use it in 1986 to discourage Arab resistance fighters from capturing Israeli soldiers who could be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners.
In an Nov. 15 Haaratz interview, Israeli Air Force (reserve) Col. Nof Erez, spoke about Israel’s fleet of Apache attack helicopters opening fire on multiple places along the border fence with Gaza to prevent Hamas from taking the captives back, killing both Hamas fighters and Israelis. He explained, “The Hannibal directive was probably deployed because once you detect a hostage situation, this is Hannibal.”
This means that Israel is deliberately kill it own citizens and then blaming it on the Palestinians.
The Israeli state’s war propaganda, even though it is repeated endlessly in the media of its western backers, does not fool most of the people of the world. The settler state’s very own acts of daily bombing Gaza neighborhoods and hospitals and daily arresting children in the West Bank expose it as the real committer of atrocities. Such false stories raise the pitch of worldwide anger at Israeli genocide and fuel the movement for a free Palestine.