Reserve Israeli pilot Col. Nof Erez, interviewed by Haaretz on Nov. 15, became the first Israeli military figure to go on record, under his name, describing the mass shootings at Hamas vehicles heading back into Gaza, with or without hostages. An English translation was published on Dec. 5 by the Electronic Intifada. He said that if a Palestinian vehicle was fleeing the scene with an Israeli captive, that’s “Hannibal”—the Israeli doctrine to permit no hostage-taking, risking the life of the hostage to end the kidnapping. And “this was a mass Hannibal. It was tons and tons of openings in the fence, and thousands of people in every type of vehicle, some with hostages and some without,” moving back and forth—so “it was an impossible mission” for helicopter crews to distinguish.
Col. Nof Erez was asked several times about Israeli captives, under “Hannibal,” being fired upon by the IDF. His earlier statements were more equivocal, such as: Israeli captives may have been “harmed at the stage when helicopters and drones began firing towards the fence, when they saw the masses entering and exiting.” Immediately afterward, he named it: “The Hannibal Directive was apparently applied at a certain stage.” And on a third try, wrote “Electronic Intifada”: “He explained that he had trained ‘for all of the last 20 years,’ to execute the Hannibal doctrine in just such a scenario, of a Palestinian vehicle fleeing the scene with an Israeli captive. What made 7 October new, he said, was that ‘this was a mass Hannibal. It was tons and tons of openings in the fence, and thousands of people in every type of vehicle, some with hostages and some without.’”
Earlier, in late October, Israel’s major publication Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet) had reported similar material, but at that time it was from an anonymous Israeli helicopter commander, reportedly from the 190 Squadron (which flies Apaches). There, “Lt. Col. A” said the air force sent over two dozen attack helicopters along with Elbit drones to shoot at everything along the Gaza fence, using Hellfire missiles and machine guns.