Psak 5766 Iyyar 5
While it is forbidden by Jewish law to intentionally target civilians, there is a difference between rights of civilians during a state of war and a state of peace. For example, during wartime the military may embark on operations that entail a higher risk to civilian population than is permitted to law enforcement agencies. This has to do with basic assumptions about the sympathies of the civilian population in an enemy state as opposed to one's own country. The Sanhedrin, being the authorized institution to decide in such matters, issues definitive moral guidance on this matter and addresses the current administration's policy concerning the Palestinian Authority.
Informal translation from Hebrew of the 5 Iyyar, 5766 (3 May, 2006) statement:
Concerning the Palestinian Authority
The representative of the Sanhedrin was asked :
Is one required to stop military actions required for the defense of the country's civilians when there is a possibility [however small] of civilian injuries [during the current military conditions],
The answer is – it is not required.
The Hamas government was elected by the Arab population of the Land of Israel. This population supports, by its own free will, a government which acts for the extinction of Israel, and the killing and exile of its Jewish residents (See the "Palestinian" Charter and the Hamas Charter). This population is not to be held as innocent and free of guilt. The "Palestinian" Authority, and the population that supports it, are an enemy in every legal sense, as is also accepted by a range of commentaries of international law. International conventions do not apply to a population whose goals are genocide. Therefore it is proper to act according to the Torah principle of "one who rises up to kill you, rise up first and kill him" (Berachot 58a and 62b, Yoma 85b, and Sanhedrin 72a based on Numbers 25:17-18). It is incumbent upon the government of Israel to change its policies and to declare that the "Palestinian" Authority is an enemy, as demanded by the Israel Defense Forces.
- The Palestinian National Charter can be found at http://www.pna.gov.ps/Government/gov/plo_Charter.asp
- The Hamas Charter can be found at http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/documents/charter.html
- Article 55 of the Vienna Convention establishes that such treaty is abrogated if it contradicts in any way Jus Cogens ("the higher authority") of the international law. Example of these include: prohibition of slavery, prohibition of racial discrimination, prohibition of genocide, prohibition against war. The ruling of the International Court of Justice in the case of Namibia determined that every nation has the right to self determination, and the international conventions cannot negate this right.
- A formal public request was made during Passover 5766 (April 2006).