Military Rabbi Urged Troops to Show No Mercy in Gaza

Rights Group Complains After Troops Told That Gaza's Civilian Population Was Not Innocent

by Jason Ditz, January 26, 2009

Israeli human rights group Yesh Din is calling for the ouster of the military’s top rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Rontzki over his messages to soldiers during the 22-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The primary concern was a booklet which, among other things, contained a rabbinical edict against showing mercy.

The booklet contains quotes from a nationalist rabbi which declares that showing mercy during the battle would be “terribly immoral” and quotes a medieval sage who cautioned Jews not to “be enticed by the folly of the Gentiles who have mercy for the cruel.” Yesh Din says the booklet could have been seen by soldiers as official encouragement to act in violation of international law… an important issue as the Israeli government scrambles to defend itself against accusations of massive war crimes during the war.

Another pamphlet told troops that the civilian population of the Gaza Strip was not innocent, and urges them to “spare your lives and the lives of your friends and not to show concern for a population that surrounds us and harms us.” Over 1,400 Palestinians were killing during the war, a large number of them civilians.

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