Israel's Sephardi chief rabbi said Saturday that it was a religious imperative to kill armed Palestinian assailants, and urged soldiers not to be concerned by the scrutiny of the High Court or the army chief of staff on the matter.
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“If someone comes to kill you, you kill him first. Don’t start being afraid with all kinds that they’ll make about him later in the High Court of Justice, or that some chief of staff will come and say something different.. . It deters them too. The moment a terrorist knows that if he comes with a knife he won’t return alive, that will deter them. That’s why it’s a mitzvah to kill him,” Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said during his weekly Torah lesson.
Yosef was referring to a statement by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot last month, when he met with students in Bat Yam. During the meeting one of the students asked the chief of staff to discuss the open-fire orders, which he claimed endanger the soldiers. Eisenkot replied that the orders are sufficient, adding that “the Israel Defense Forces can’t speak in slogans, like ‘If someone comes to kill you, you kill him first.’ I don’t want a soldier to empty a magazine on a girl with scissors.” His words aroused criticism from MKs in Habayit Hayehudi and Likud.
Rabbi Yosef made his statement during a discussion of the question as to whether it is permitted to kill Amalekites, a biblical enemy of the Hebrews, on Shabbat. “On Shabbat you can’t kill Amalek,” he said. “If some terrorist comes to me now, and I know he’s a terrorist, and we caught him. He doesn’t have a knife in his hand, he doesn’t have anything. And I know, Elijah the Prophet will come to me and tell me that he’s from Amalek. Is it permitted to kill him on Shabbat? No. But Elijah the Prophet says that it’s Amalek. Put him in prison, after Shabbat say a blessing and kill him.”
Yosef also said that it’s impossible today to know with certainty that a terrorist belongs to the seed of Amalek, and therefore he shouldn’t be executed that way: “Now, we don’t know if he’s a seed of Amalek until the righteous Messiah comes. Put him in prison, let him get life imprisonment, until the righteous Messiah comes and tells us if he’s the seed of Amalek - and then we can kill them.”