The Israel Defense Forces employed the controversial 'Hannibal procedure' late Monday night after two soldiers were attacked after accidentally entering the Qalandiyah refugee camp, according to an initial IDF investigation.
The so-called Hannibal procedure, which was last used in Rafah, Gaza, during the 2014 war, entails using massive force, irrespective of casualties, to prevent a soldier from falling into enemy hands.
The IDF expects a full investigation to reveal that there were failures in judgement, with those involved in the incident likely to be tried at a later date.
The initial investigation of the incident revealed that an army driver and squad commander from the Oketz unit entered the camp by mistake while using the Waze smartphone GPS navigational app. .
The two separated after their vehicle was attacked in the camp, with the whereabouts of one being unknown for more than an hour. The Hannibal protocol was invoked during the search for the missing soldier.
Ten members of the security forces were injured, five IDF soldiers and five members of the Border Police, one of whom was moderately wounded during the night-time IDF operation to rescue the soldiers.
The army reported serious violence in the refugee camp overnight including gunfire and the throwing of explosives, Molotov cocktails and stones. One Palestinian, who the army said was armed, was killed by IDF fire. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he had been shot in the head.
Directives require that all soldiers travelling in the West Bank know the route that they are supposed to take. Before setting out, someone is to be put in charge of travel, with responsibility for proper navigation to the destination.
The pair were in uniform,had a magazine of ammunition and were in a vehicle with army license plates.A confrontation began after they entered the refugee camp,with residents attacking them with stones and Molotov cocktails, one of which hit the vehicle and set it on fire. The soldiers got out of the vehicle and split up. One hid in a nearby yard while the other proceeded toward the Jewish settlement of Kochav Yaakov.
The soldier who remained in the camp had a cellphone, which he used to contact his commanders. He also used his weapon a number of times, firing into the air.
Contact with the other soldier was lost, and when the army realized that he could not be contacted, the Hannibal protocol was invoked throughout the IDF Central Command area. The soldier was located more than an hour later. Overnight, the IDF extracted the army vehicle, which had been completely burned, from the refugee camp.
On Tuesday, investigators were examining the conduct of the soldiers and what orders they received from their commanders. The investigation is expected to focus on what instructions the soldiers received before setting out on their military mission, in addition to the soldiers’ own conduct while on the road, an army source said. The soldiers were coming from the direction of the settlement of Beit El after dropping off a number of soldiers at a base.
Commenting on the incident, Defense Minister Ya’alon noted that the two had left their vehicle in a manner than made it difficult to locate at least one of them and that large numbers of troops were deployed in the search. Ya’alon had praise for the quick response of the troops that were dispatched. The army, he added, would investigate exactly what happened in connection with an incident in which the two soldiers were not familiar with the area, adding that proper conduct “in an era in which Waze is showing the way” will also be looked at.
The use of Waze can pose a problem in the West Bank if the route proposed by the app is not evaluated. A Waze option allows the exclusion of highways in Area A, which is under the complete control of the Palestinian Authority, and Area B, which is under the civil control of the Palestinian Authority.
But when it comes to travel between the Palestinian town of Al-Ram and the settlement of Adam, which was the route traveled by the two soldiers, Waze sometimes directs motorists toward Al-Ram, the route the soldiers took.
According to Waze, the soldiers diverted from the route suggested by the app. Further, Waze said that the app comes with a feature that highlights dangerous areas, adding that the soldiers opted to turn off the warning feature.
Waze also told Haaretz that it is the responsibility of drivers to follow road signs and local laws in the areas they travel. On all roads leading to areas under control of the Palestinian Authority, there are red signs that stand out at the road side, stating that Israeli residents are forbidden from driving in the area.
According to Waze, the company is in direct and continuous contact with the relevant authorities to reduce the likelihood of such incidents, but that it is impossible to prevent them completely.
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