The IDF denied a Lebanese report that it used a controversial procedure in order to prevent the capture of soldiers following last month’s cross-border attack by Hezbollah on an IDF convoy.
The Thursday report by the Lebanese Daily Star alleged that the IDF enacted the Hannibal Protocol, a directive intended to prevent the capture of IDF personnel at virtually any cost, after the terrorist group launched a salvo of Kornet anti-tank missiles from Lebanese territory at an IDF patrol on Mount Dov in the Israeli Golan Heights on January 28, killing two soldiers and injuring seven others.
Israel immediately responded to the attack by pounding suspected Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon with artillery and mortar fire, accidentally killing a Spanish UNIFIL soldier stationed in the area.
The Hannibal Protocol calls for heavy-handed measures to neutralize retreating captors and prevent IDF personnel ending up in enemy hands, even if it requires endangering the lives of captive soldiers.
An IDF spokesperson speaking with Channel 10 Saturday denied the Lebanese report: “The Hannibal Protocol was not at all used during the time of the incident.”
The Lebanese Daily Star contended that, unlike previous instances of retaliatory fire, the IDF’s shelling of the area indicated that it was seeking to target potential kidnapping squads attempting to cross back into Lebanon with captive soldiers.
The report further stated that the original strike team was not targeted by the shelling. The cell was 4.7 kilometers (2.9 miles) from the Givati Brigade patrol when it fired its first volley of missiles at the two-car convoy. Major Yochai Kalangel, 25, and Staff Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini, 20, were killed when the car door of the unarmored jeep they were traveling in was struck.
The back of the second vehicle was hit, allowing the seven injured soldiers a small window of time to escape before the wreckage was targeted for a second time. A total of six missiles were shot by Hezbollah.
The Hannibal Protocol has been reportedly used on a number of occasions, including during last summer’s conflict, Operation Protective Edge. Artillery pounded the city of Rafah in southern Gaza after Hamas violated a temporary ceasefire by dispatching a team to ambush three soldiers, killing two and capturing Lieutenant Hadar Goldin.
In an effort to neutralize his captors, the IDF pummeled suspected tunnel entrances and other positions, killing over 100 Palestinian civilians and combatants in the process.
A rescue team later entered the tunnels and pursued the captors, later finding evidence that indicated Goldin and the Hamas ambush cell were killed.
The IDF is currently investigating that incident.