Psak 5769 Shevat 9
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 9 Shevat, 5769 (3 February 2009) statement:
Jerusalem, may it be built quickly in our day, amen
Commission of enquiry regarding the results of the military action “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza during winter 5769 (2009)
10 Sh’vat 5769
3 February 2009
The Beit Din of the Sanhedrin decided, when in convened on 2 Sh’vat 5759 (27 January 2009) to establish a commission of enquiry into the various aspects of the military operation in Gaza and to publish the intermediate results given the reasons detailed below.
The Beit Din of the Sanhedrin released its decisions in the matter of Israel Defense Force’s military actions in Gaza and its intensity on 10 Tevet, included as an addendum to this document. It concluded that there is a necessity to unconditionally subdue the enemy, i.e., all terrorist organizations and those who support them, throughout Gaza, and indicated that there were no goals determined for the war. Likewise, it determined that a temporary military administration for Gaza should be implemented.
Approximately three weeks after the Israeli government decided to cease the military operation, the Beit Din thought it appropriate to state, as a preliminary decision, the immediate findings until the publication of the full findings of the commission of enquiry of the Sanhedrin. It did this because of the serious consequences that come to light daily, and the growing influence of election concerns on actions, and the oversights in the Gaza Strip.
The commission of enquiry for the Sanhedrin works jointly with and in consultation with experts on military and security issues who desire to remain anonymous.
The prevailing public impression is that the general military readiness had improved. This is because both the fighting morale and readiness of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Force reflected the internalization of the conclusions as a result of the war in Lebanon.
The improvements are evident in the planning of the war, the evaluation in the field, the logistics and the supplies.
In the necessary changes in the attitude of the military which got rid of pronouncements that demoralized it for many years with respect to the faulty ethics code which the military had adopted.
Additionally, the military neither showed disregard for human life, nor deliberately harmed the enemy’s civilian population, as has come to light one after the other in various incidents, and investigations.
With the completion of the war, the propaganda of the media and its associatescomes to demoralize the army, like with the incident of the doctor and his three daughters, and threatens to return it to a military that is beaten with feelings of guilty and lacking the ability to fight.
Also, the incident with the Spanish government’s attempt to take to court senior officers of the Israel Defense Force and additional threats – these are the fruits of the efforts of these associates whose intention is to undermine the existence of a Jewish state, among other things to weaken its military and demoralize it.
The Government and Operation Cast Lead:
A) Both the government’s decision regarding the war, which after the fact one can deduce that it had not determined the war’s goals but rather indicated vague goals that changed from day to day (e.g., “changing the face of the reality in the south” as opposed to “displacing Hamas”), and the dissolution of the war in actuality, testify of a significant shrinking back from a decisive victory which has only one expression: the unconditional victory over the terrorist organizations in Gaza.
B) This is not only the fault of this government but the logical result, the rotten fruit, of a national amnesia, regarding both a sense of self and ethically. This will, from the outset, paralyze the military in any operation or war, and will likely continue to influence the decisions of the upcoming government. This is an expression of a behavior pattern that stems from feelings of guilt, the legitimization of the enemy, and a lack of knowing what to do if, “G-d forbid”, there would be a victory.
C) The root of this amnesia, which comes from an unjustified sense of guilt, stems from a lack of an inward recognition of the absolute stewardship of the people Israel over the Land of Israel that comes from the strength of holiness of the people and the Land as it is reflected in the Israel’s faith, the Torah, and the Creator of the world.
D) This significant shortcoming is one of education. The political parties that speak of the importance of education are not speaking of this shortcoming as the main source for the various aspects of the failure of wars, in the arena of the political and legal.
E) On the other hand, in the military arena, the attitude of religious faith strengthens the army that fights, and places its marks positively on the behavior of the soldiers, both in their prayers and their behavior as soldiers. Such expressions, however, are seen as naught in the eyes of those who are assimilated. From this aspect, the demographic change among the core of the solders aids security. The problem is that these soldiers filled with faith in the rightness of our way in our land are directed by weak politicians who seek the support of the minority in our country, the children of the people of Hamas.
F) Despite the improved military capability, the security and political situations of Israel have worsened as a result of Operation Cast Lead. The principal reason for this worsening situation stems from the messages of the various governments of Israel since the end of the Six Day War. These messages by means of various decisions repudiated the national rights of the people Israel in its own land, and by so doing fanned the fires of those who hate Israel. As an example of this is the decision of the Eshkol government in 5727 (1967) to see various districts of the land as deposits for returning to the enemy by means of negotiation.
G) Standing before the government which will come to power, G-d willing, after the elections, are very difficult problems and a limited room to maneuver both in the area of international relations, and regional security relating to Iran and nuclear weapons, and Egypt. An additional difficulty exists which prevents the determination of the Israel Defense Force’s goals of warfare for the future that is apparent and appropriate for these goals – its readiness.
H) The Israel Defense Force was managed with such hand wringing that it could not subdue the enemy, and stopped itself as a result of the confused political statements that were given in the last days of the war, similar to the second Lebanon war, fearing a loss of the minorities to the ruling parties in the elections.
I) Meanwhile, the objectives of fighting related to the enemy, whether in guerilla warfare, or warfare against local, regional or global terrorist organizations, or against terrorist nations or enemy nations, are beyond the horizon of the various administrations of the country and of the Israel Defense Force, and therefore one must expect difficult situations, even to the extent of being dragged into an unconventional war whose cost of lives is a price neither the state of Israel nor the Jewish people can afford.
J) There cannot be any appropriate objectives for either war or peace for the Israel Defense Force or the state of Israel as long as one accepts as legitimate the Oslo “peace process” of 1993 and the particular ethos of “peace” that developed from the start with the establishment of the Yishuv in the late 19th century.
K) The concept of “peace” of Israel is derived from the essential legitimacy of the duty of the Jewish people to conquer, take possession of its land, and displace its enemies – all of this is to be done as a condition of very existence of the people Israel in the land of Israel, and principally to settle in the land.
And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have assigned the land to you to possess. You shall apportion the land among yourselves by lot, clan by clan, with larger groups increase the share, with smaller groups reduce the share. Wherever the lot falls for anyone, that shall be his. You shall have your portions according to your ancestral tribes. But if you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land, those whom you allow to remain shall be stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land in which you live, so that I will do to you what I planned to do to them. (Bemidbar / Deuteronomy 33: 53-56)
K) Uppermost in the thoughts of assimilated Zionism is to turn the people Israel into a nation like all others. It sees in the possessing of the land and its settling as the foundation that signifies the Jewish people as a religious people that functions within its national tradition. The propaganda of these groups was a negative influence, regretfully, on deeply rooted Jews.
L) Therefore there could not have been an appropriate outcome for Operation Cast Lead, this despite eight years of restraint, and definitive warnings of those in protest.
The bitter results are necessarily the shedding of more of the blood of our soldiers, G-d forbid, and of the enemy’s population, when, in each military operation, we can expect it only to worsen.
The Gilad Shalit incident:
A) Based on the reactions of the politicians on 9 Sh’vat, they are ready to submit to the demands of Hamas regarding Gilad Shalit within the context of the freeing of many dangerous murderers. As part of the goal to arrive at an agreed upon joint statement with Egypt one day prior to the elections, this appears as a crude attempt to interfere with its results.
B) The price that both current and previous politicians are willing to pay for the release of captives, like with Jibril and the transaction that involved him, who gave both encouragement in a significant manner to the sense of success for the monstrous murderers, and additional power to them, and to the increasing of worldwide terror, testifies to the diminishing of the image of G-d in Israel. These agreements caused the desecration of G-d’s Name, and are a factor in the loss of deterrence and respect of Israel, and their results are incomparable bloodshed everywhere a Jew is found. In the summer of 5766 / 2006, the Beit Din of the Sanhedrin determined, regarding the abduction of Gilad Shalit (See the second addendum), the maximal ethical limits of an agreement for his release by the terrorists. This was that not more than seven terrorists without blood on their hands can be turned over in exchange for an Israeli soldier.