The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has called on
…Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the RCA, … said that …the IDF may have unnecessarily endangered its forces out of moral considerations.
"Like Jews everywhere, we as members of the RCA have always admired the unparalleled moral standards of Israel's armed forces in their military engagements, including sensitivity to the suffering of civilians and other innocents who find themselves caught up in the entanglements of war," said the RCA statement. …
According to Herring, the new combat realities of fighting an enemy that uses its own civilians as human shields dictate a rethinking of IDF military ethics.
…The RCA's delicate criticism of IDF morality was echoed by Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed and Rabbi Tzefania Drori of Kiryat Shmona. …
"Our corrupt military morality, which tells us that our soldiers must endanger their lives to protect enemy civilians, is the reason we lost the war," said Eliyahu.
"Anti-Semites demand that we use Christian morality while our enemies act like barbarians," said Drori, accusing the IDF of adopting "Christian morality" as its own.
Three weeks ago, Rabbi Dov Lior announced in the name of the Yesha Council of Rabbis that "when our enemies hold a baby in one hand and shoot at us with the other, or when missiles are purposely aimed at civilian populations in the Land of Israel in blatant disregard for moral criteria, we are obligated to act according to Jewish morality, which dictates that 'he who gets up to kill you, get up yourself and kill him first.'"
"There are no innocent parties in a time of war," he continued. "Rather, one must battle a bellicose city until it is captured. All types of Christian morality weaken the spirit of our army and our nation and cost us the lives of our soldiers and citizens."
My understanding is that there is indeed a Talmudic principle of the rodef ‘pursuer’, which sanctions preemptive actions. The unparalleled moral standards of the Israeli military, however, take this a few steps further - If you can imagine anyone threatening your interests in any way, pre-emptively obliterate them and anyone else who happens to be around at the time and might get in the way.
The principle has doubtless been subject to a millennium of interpretation and commentary. For example, an article by Rabbi Jill Jacobs asserts,
Even as rabbinic law commands the killing of the rodef, this mandate, like the laws of war and punishment, comes with restrictions. Before killing a rodef, one must be certain that this person actually intends to murder, and may even need to verify that the rodef understands the implications of this crime (Talmud, Yoma 85b and Talmud, Sanhedrin 72b). Furthermore, one must do the least harm necessary to stop the rodef from murdering. Thus, one who kills a rodef when breaking a limb would have sufficed is liable for capital punishment (Talmud, Sanhedrin 57a).
And of course, unparalleled moral standards do not prevent the Israeli military from siting its headquarters in a densely populated area of Tel Aviv, or its munitions factories and stores among civilians. And all the other atrocities we have witnessed over the last 58 years and more.
Unparalleled moral standards also apparently sanction violation of the ceasefire whose terms were so favourable to
In fact, this was no simple “clash” during an intelligence-gathering mission, as early reports in the Israeli media made clear before the official story was established. Israeli special forces launched the covert operation to capture a Hizbullah leader, Sheikh Mohammed Yazbak, way beyond the
…It is difficult to see how this operation could be characterized as “defensive” except in the language employed by