Senior national religious leader and Chief Municipal Rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hebron Rabbi Dov Lior published a letter this week saying that according to Jewish law it would be permitted to destroy the entire Gaza strip to bring peace to southern Israel.
Lior said that he had received questions about whether it is permitted according to Jewish law to harm a civilian population not directly involved with the combatants.
“At a time of war it is permitted for the people who are attacked to punish the enemy population with measures such as blocking supplies or electricity and to shell the entire area according to the considerations of the minister of the army and not to needlessly endanger soldiers but rather to take crushing warning steps to exterminate the enemy,” Lior wrote.
Addressing the current hostilities with Hamas, the rabbi continued “In the case of Gaza, it would be permitted for the Minister of Defense to even order the destruction of all of Gaza so that the south will no longer suffer and to prevent injury to our people who have been suffering for so long from the enemies surrounding us.”
Lior added that “talk of humanism and consideration are as nothing when weighed against saving our brothers in the south and across the country and the restoration of quiet to our land.”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On condemned Lior’s comments and called on the Attorney General to open an investigation into him for incitement.
“The racist comments of Rabbi Dov Lior have for some time not been protected by freedom of speech. We’re talking about a man who praises mass murder, stands behind those who murder innocents and took part in the incitement that led to the murder of a prime minister,” said Gal-On in reference to Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated in a politically motivated murder.
“These type of comments are not made in a vacuum but are rather an inseparable part of the dangerous and tempestuous atmosphere prevailing in Israeli society in recent weeks,” said Gal-On.
“There is therefore a real concern that these words will become a real threat to the lives of more innocent people. These are not words of incitement written on the web by anonymous sources but by a chief municipal rabbi and therefore they must be addressed with appropriate severity.”