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Policy To Shoot Captured Israeli Soldiers- Hannibal Command


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tishrei 24, 5782
I heard that Israel has a policy to shoot many of our own soldiers that are captured by the enemy, so that they cannot give over any information if tortured. Halachically is this justified? Was a ruling ever issued on this by the rabbis of the IDF?
You are probably referring to the "Hannibal Command", but it has definitely not (!) caused "many" deaths of soldiers as you were misinformed, because the case is thank God, extremely rare, where Wikipedia (in Hebrew) counts just 7 cases in about 35 years. Let us be extremely precise in order to prevent similar and other misunderstandings. The order is clearly not at all to kill the soldier but to the contrary, to do anything to prevent his kidnapping (!), even if the firing at the kidnappers' jeep may (!) chalila, injure our soldier, as well. This "Command" to prevent soldiers being kidnapped, is not at all to prevent revealing secrets (most soldiers don't really know top-secrets!), but rather to prevent cases like Gilad Shalit, where we ended up freeing 1,027 convicted terrorists in his exchange, many of them returning to kill many more Jews than that 1 Jewish hostage who was saved. The halacha explicitly prohibits ransoming for more than a hostage is worth (Mishna Gittin 4, 6, and Rambam, Matnot Aniyim, 8, 12, basically: one of their's in exchange for one of our's, or a price which is universally accepted and done, as opposed to the illogically exorbitant Shalit exchange to free so many mass murderers), because paying an inflated price will obviously encourage the enemy to repeat such strategic kidnappings, which is exactly what we want to prevent. The command is well-based in halachic sources (as extensively proven by Rav Shlomo Aviner & the IDF Military Rabbi Elazar Goldstein). Just as the army has the right and even obligation to send soldiers to their possible death in order to protect the Land and State of Israel (as we see was done throughout the Tanach), they also have the right to do anything possible to stop those kidnappings which is unfortunately a favorite strategic plan of our brutal enemies, who wish to exploit our love of life (willingness to pay greatly in order to save the hostage), in order to facilitate killing as many of us as possible. The Hannibal Order is exactly that, to save lives, which is the moral duty of the Torah as well as the army, and rabbinically approved.
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