‘Kill the difficult ones’: Hamas’s hostage-taking handbook reveals secrets of terror-raid planning

Palestinians take an Israeli hostage, captured in the Hamas raid on October 7, into the Gaza Strip
Palestinians use a golf cart to take an Israeli hostage, captured in the Hamas raid on October 7, into the Gaza Strip - AFP/AFP

Manuals discovered on the bodies of dead Hamas terrorists shows how they were ordered to execute “problematic” hostages with babies designated as specific targets during their surprise attack on Israel.

The Islamist terror group took more than 200 hostages back to Gaza after a murderous rampage through communities in southern Israel, killing around 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

A copy of one guide, obtained by The Telegraph, revealed how Hamas planned to take hostages to use as human shields in firefights with Israel’s armed forces and kill any who posed a threat to their terror attack.

“Kill the problematic and those who post a threat,” the document reads in Arabic.

“Gather some of the hostages in the area and use them as cannon fodder, ensuring they are clearly visible,” it adds.

Israeli officials say the manuals are a sign of the high level of planning by Hamas in the months leading up to the attack on October 7.

“It shows they were very, very task orientated,” Lt Col Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, told The Telegraph.

“It wasn’t just haphazardly ‘let’s cross over and kill whoever we walk into’ but rather that we go in, we take, we attack, we abduct, we tie them up… there’s a whole list of things to do.”

The hostage-taking manual recommended gathering the victims in “pre-determined” locations on maps when each of the terrorist squads had finished “cleansing their operating areas”.

Civilian targets

Maps found on the terrorists showed the locations of nurseries, shops and other civilian targets.

The attackers were expected to “kill anyone that may pose a threat or cause a distraction or disturbance”, and blindfold and tie up the others by their wrists and ankles.

Further killings were advocated only as a “last resort”, with the terrorists told to use “firearms, smoke and stun grenades, indirect threats, electric shocks, violence and terrorism” to maintain order.

It said men should be separated from women and babies, confirming that Hamas had long planned to target infants as part of its brutal raid across the border into southern Israel.

Versions of the guide, which was marked “confidential”, were found on the bodies of dead Hamas terrorists, as well as in vehicles abandoned by the group when Israeli forces fought back.

In Israel there is a sense that the attack may have been more devastating than the terror group had thought possible.

Officials believe each Hamas squad was meant to have brought just one or two hostages back with them across the border into Gaza, with a maximum of 30 taken into captivity.

Hundreds of victims

Instead, hundreds of victims were loaded onto the back of pick-up trucks, motorcycles and golf carts as the terrorists caught Israel’s armed forces flat-footed.

And Israeli officials fear the true number of victims taken to Gaza could yet grow beyond the 210 officially announced.

They say there are still 100 people left unaccounted for, with intelligence pointing towards them being alive and held hostage by Hamas.

The terrorists’ guide set out how the expected number of victims taken back across the borders could have been significantly lower.

It appears that Hamas had initially planned for a protracted battle over control of the kibbutzim, with recommendations to “collect as much food and drinks as possible”.

“Do not use your own supplies to feed the hostages, except in emergency situations,” the manual added.

In expectation of an armed stand-off between Hamas and Israeli forces, the terrorists were given orders on how to conduct negotiations.

Only the most senior commanders were allowed to “communicate with the enemy” and were told to stay in close contact throughout with leaders in Gaza.

“Do not engage in negotiations in the field if possible,” the document added, suggesting the ultimate aim was to return to Gaza with captives.

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