The controversial booklet distributed to Israeli soldiers during the Gaza invasion by chief Israeli military rabbi Brigadier General Avichai Rontzki was “unsuitable for military publication,” according to the Israeli Defense Ministry.
In a letter to opposition MP Avshalom Vilan, an attorney for the Defense Ministry tried to minimize the seriousness however, claiming the book was only distributed in small numbers and that Brig-Gen. Rontzki did not even see it until after its publication. They added that Chief of Staff Ashkenazi had summoned Rontzki about the matter.
MP Vilan urged Ashkenazi to set definite boundaries, saying “the chief military rabbinate long ago broke barriers and turned the IDF’s activity from fighting out of necessity into a holy war,” and cautioning “the road from the army of the people to the army as a tool of sanctity is shorter than people think.”
The booklet, published by the “Jewish awareness” section, cautions Israeli troops not to “be enticed by the folly of the Gentiles who have mercy for the cruel,” and likewise declares that showing mercy during the war would be “terribly immoral.” It sparked concerns from Israeli human rights group Yesh Din that the military rabbinate was encouraging soldiers to violate international law.