A Mutation of the Hannibal Procedure Has Made Its Way to Jerusalem

The violence will only increase until despair replaces hope. But what does the current Israeli government care about hope?

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
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Israeli riot police officers detain a Palestinian youth during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, October 26, 2014.
Israeli riot police officers detain a Palestinian youth during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, October 26, 2014. Credit: AFP
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich’s praise for the officer who shot and killed a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem was clear:

“The action of the Border Police officer who chased the terrorist and quickly killed him is the right and professional action, and that is the way I would like these incidents to end,” he said. “A terrorist who strikes civilians should be killed.”

We (and the rest of the world) saw the minister’s unofficial instructions implemented in a clip showing police shooting Khayr al-Din Hamdan after he attacked a police van with a knife.

In fact, if the killing of Arabs interested Israel’s Jews, they would be expected to be suspicious of the statement by the Shin Bet security service and the police the day after right-wing activist Yehuda Glick was shot.

According to the Shin Bet and the police, a police Special Forces squad tried to arrest the suspect, Muatez Hijazi, at his home in the Abu Tor neighborhood of Jerusalem. Hijazi was shot dead after he opened fire on the squad members, the two agencies said.

But no video clip was released that explains what the police and Shin Bet mean when they say that Hijazi was shot while the authorities were trying to arrest him. Perhaps that’s the reason that their statement was accepted at face value.

Aharonvich’s statement and its application on the ground show that the authorities simply want these incidents to end - with the terrorist killed at the scene rather than brought into the justice system.

The state treats Arab Israelis who attack Jews like enemies, not criminals. The proof? Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to revoke their citizenships and send them to the Palestinian Authority, “or even to Gaza.”

The state also wants to make clear that it does not want them as prisoners. Indeed, the best way to avoid releasing prisoners is not to arrest them to begin with.

And what is this approach if not a mutation of the virus called the “Hannibal procedure”?

During Operation Protective Edge, a debate about the Hannibal procedure raged, focused mainly on the circumstances of the death of the abducted IDF soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin during the fighting in Rafah.

At the time many people wondered about the legitimacy of the Hannibal procedure: the unofficial Israel Defense Forces policy of preventing the abduction of a soldier even at the cost of killing the soldier.

It is no wonder, then, that a country that prefers a dead Israeli soldier over an abducted one would also prefer a dead Arab terrorist over an arrested one.

Aharonovich’s words carry a logic similar to that of the Hannibal procedure, which more than anything else expresses deep despair.

After the nerve-wracking worry about Gilad Shalit, the soldier kidnapped by Hamas and held for more than five years, the state could not bear launching another painful adventure that would have extracted what many would have perceived as too high a price - the release of prisoners who had killed Israelis.

That same despair has taken hold now. After the wars, the intifadas, the terrible summer of Protective Edge, society has no strength left to contain another outbreak of resistance, on yet another front.

Aharonovich’s statement expresses the false hope that such incidents can be ended at the scene; that a targeted killing of the incident itself can be carried out, as if it were not a link in the chain of reality that Israel has been a partner in creating.

But Israeli Jews are not the only ones who are desperate. Despair has also taken hold of Israeli Arabs and certainly of the Palestinians in the territories.

The general despair reflects a leadership vacuum. In such an atmosphere procedures and instructions will not help, nor will beefed-up army and police forces.

Every “killing” of an incident only portends the next one. The violence will only increase until despair is exchanged for hope.

But what does the current Israeli government care about hope?

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