Psak 5769 Tevet 10
The Sanhedrin, being the authorized institution to decide in military matters, issues definitive moral guidance on this matter and addresses the current administration's defense policy.
Informal translation from Hebrew of the 10 Tevet, 5769 (6 January 2009) statement:
Regarding the Military Action in the Gaza Strip
The entire country must share joint responsibility for the current military action in the Gaza Strip and for the likelihood that it will end without a clear defeat of our enemy.
Consideration by Israel to signing a ceasefire agreement with the PLO/Hamas terrorist organizations under the aegis of international or local proposals testifies to the short-sighted political view of the Israel government and its clouded horizon of the country’s future. Conclusion of battle must come only when the enemy is unable to fight.
The remark by President Elect Obama regarding the reciprocal responsibility of the current fighting shows a lack of moral understanding and bodes ill for fundamental Israeli and world interests.
If the present military action is not concluded categorically, the Israeli population will suffer the severe results of continuing attacks and from the inept handling of the political side of this battle. This responsibility falls on Jewry as a whole who did not come out in mass to prevent the 2005 destruction of the Jewish villages in the Gaza Strip and northern Shomron. They allowed themselves to be lulled by empty promises of “Peace in our Times” repeated by corrupt politicians, often, to find favor in the eyes of “post-Zionist” law-enforcement officials, who were pleased to delay the pressing of criminal charges.
A Crime took place: The destruction of thriving villages in the Gaza Strip and northern Shomron and deportation of their populations.
The Punishment came in its time: The Arab bombardment of cities and townships from Ashdod to Beer-Sheva, loss of Jewish lives, disfiguring injuries, and destruction of Israeli property, paralysis of life in most of the southern third of the country – and the lack of will to restore the destroyed communities to their past glory.
As Joseph’s brothers said to one another: 'We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us’; And Reuben answered them, saying: 'Spoke I not unto you, saying: Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore also, behold, his blood is required.’ [Gen 24,21-22].
In addition to our responsibility, the current military action in the Gaza Strip reflects a series of mistakes in all fields: in policy making, media relations, military planning, and moral cognition. Beside the obvious need to destroy Hamas, which caused the opening of the current military action, it is obvious to the objective observer that political considerations also had their say. The upcoming elections were a primary factor, since it was clear to the Minister of Defense that his party was losing electoral support and he could not allow rockets to continue to spoil his chances of strengthening his party’s position. [In fact, the popularity of the Minister and his party increased by more than 50% since the beginning of the war.]
However, we foresee political failure if a premature ceasefire is adopted because the government did not coherently formulate the goals of its military action:
- The government did not clearly identify the enemy;
- It did not commit to defeat and remove the enemy;
- It did not define “victory”; and
- It did not describe how to consolidate the war’s achievements.
The present Israeli government — in ignorance — calls the civilian populace in the Gaza Strip “innocent bystanders”. But this populace voted overwhelmingly to be ruled over by the Hamas, whose fundamental, well-publicized doctrine is the destruction of the state of Israel and the killing of Jews as a “religious” Islamic goal. Israel’s people have the full right of engaging in a war of self-defense against a political entity with such aims, especially after this entity shoots, shells and targets rockets at the Israel populace for over eight years.
Indeed, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has modified one of the self-imposed limitations that characterized its previous engagements: in the current battle, Israel has attacked all places from which the enemy has attacked our people, and all places in which enemy munitions are stored — even mosques (which is in accordance with international laws). Nevertheless, the IDF still behaves as if the blood of Arabs is worth more than that of Israeli soldiers or civilians. This attitude lies at the basis of the decision — against the advice of eminent military experts — not to purchase the Vulcan-Phalanx electrically powered Gatling gun for Israeli troops or the Israel-US-developed Nautilus Tactical High Energy Laser System, known to be successful in downing rockets and projectiles. Such ordinance would have proved very useful and saved many IDF and civilian casualties.
Necessary Action and Prevention
A. To act according to the lesson taught by King David [Psalms 18,38]: I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them; neither did I turn back till they were consumed, namely, there is no ceasefire until every city and town of the enemy surrenders.
B. No placing of international forces in Gaza to enforce security;
C. No Egyptian forces to be permitted into the Gaza Strip;
D. Temporary Military Rule should be established to maintain order;
E. The local population will be encouraged to undertake voluntary emigration from the Gaza Strip to whichever countries are willing to accept them. The travel costs will be paid by the Military Rule. This will be a humane solution for the difficult economic situation.
F. A basic constitution will be established, based upon the seven Noahide Laws, which will also be a central aspect of the educational system. This legal foundation includes, among other things, the prohibition against murder or suicide, as well as theincitement to these crimes.
G. All areas of the strip that had Israeli homes and villages will be rebuilt and annexed to Israel, as written in Deuteronomy 11,31-32: For ye are to pass over the Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein, And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and the ordinances which I set before you this day.
We encourage, strengthen and bless the Israel Defense Forces and the other security personnel in their efforts on behalf of Israel, and pray that no harm will befall them. May they recover our country from our enemies; and enable us to live in the whole of the Land promised by the Almighty to the Jewish people.
Rabbi Dov Stein - Secretary