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Misleading Post Claims the IDF Killed Israelis Intentionally on October 7
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Misleading Post Claims the IDF Killed Israelis Intentionally on October 7

The post exaggerates claims made in a Haaretz article and falsely asserts that Israel is responsible for most civilian casualties.

A view of a house left in ruins after an attack by Hamas militants, on October 10, 2023, in Kfar Aza, Israel. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

A recent post by ZirafaMedia, a U.S.-based pro-Palestinian outlet that has a presence on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, cites reporting by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to claim that the Israel Defense Forces “intentionally killed their own citizens on Oct. 7” and that the “Israeli army was responsible for the largest number of Israeli civilian casualties on that day.” 

Haaretz did report that the IDF launched attacks within three military outposts that day, but ZirafaMedia takes Haaretz’s reporting out of context to make exaggerated claims, and there is no basis for the assertion that the IDF “was responsible for the largest number of Israeli civilian casualties” on October 7, 2023, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel.

Haaretz obtained documents and soldier testimony showing that the “Hannibal procedure,” also known as the Hannibal directive, was employed on October 7 in at least three locations.

The Hannibal directive is an Israeli military protocol initially established in 1986 in response to Israeli soldiers being abducted by enemy forces—such as Hezbollah and other militant groups in the Middle East. The goal of the directive is to prevent the capture of Israeli soldiers, even at the risk of a soldier’s death.

The directive gained notoriety because it  allowed for extreme measures to thwart soldiers being captured by enemy forces, including the use of heavy firepower and putting soldiers’ lives at great risk. In 2016, Gadi Eizenkot—then the chief of staff of the IDF—ordered the formal revocation of the policy, in favor of new protocols that aim to greater balance the imperative of preventing future kidnappings with the need to protect the lives of civilians and soldiers.

The Israeli government has not confirmed whether the policy was implemented during the Hamas-led massacre of Israeli civilians and soldiers on October 7.

Haaretz reports in the piece that a senior defense official within the Israeli government chose to conduct attacks inside outposts in response to the IDF being “overwhelmed” by the sheer number of Hamas fighters. Furthermore, the media outlet reported that by the end of the night: 

One case in which it is known that civilians were hit, a case that received wide coverage, took place in the house of Pessi Cohen at Kibbutz Be’eri. 14 hostages were held in the house as the IDF attacked it, with 13 of them killed. In the coming weeks, the IDF is expected to publish the results of its investigation of the incident, which will answer the question of whether Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram, the commander of Division 99 who was in charge of operations in Be’eri on October 7, was employing the Hannibal procedure. 

ZafraMedia post’s claim that Israel “intentionally killed its own citizens” is exaggerated. The Haaretz article details the timeline of the orders reportedly given to soldiers, and notes that an order given at 10:32 a.m. on October 7 to fire mortars toward Gaza was criticized “since at that time, the IDF did not have a complete picture of all the forces in the area, including soldiers and civilians. It also notes that a different order was given at 2 p.m. in which “forces were instructed not to exit border communities toward the west, in the direction of the border, with an emphasis on not chasing terrorists.”

According to Barron’s, Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel resulted in the death of more than 1,160 people, mainly civilians. The death toll at the Nova music festival site alone is reported to be 364. While it is true there have been cases of fatalities caused by friendly fire from the IDF, nearly all of the Israelis who died that day were killed by Hamas. 

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Max Whalen is an intern at The Dispatch, based in Washington, D.C. A rising junior at Cornell University, he serves as the editor-in-chief of the Cornell Review. When Max is not keeping up with the headlines, you can probably find him listening to the Rolling Stones or rooting for the Arizona Diamondbacks.