Sunday, September 07, 2014


On Killing Them All

on Mystical Paths by Reb Akiva…

In the midst of the Gaza war, I wrote a RANT entitled KILL THEM ALL, the point of which was that worrying about protecting their civilians during war, especially when they are firing from civilian areas, was resulting in our deaths and pain, and this is not required nor reasonable. 

In response, an anonymous commentor wrote…

What is most mystical about Akiva's diatribe is how it ignores Halachah: Israel, the Jewish state, is bound by the treaties it has signed and the laws that emanate from them. So while it may relieve a little emotional pressure to rant about killing everyone the fact is that the secular state's behavior, in targeting its response and limiting casualties as far as possible, is behaving in accordance with the practical Halacha. How ironic.

I was worried by this comment.  Perhaps I was recommending an inappropriate path?  One contrary to Torah and Halacha (Jewish Law)?  Did I create a Chilul Hashem (a desecration of the Divine Name) or lead people astray (G-d forbid)?  So I consulted a respected rav and went to the one source that I know discusses these issues.  Here’s what I found…

Mishneh Torah – Hilchos Melachim uMilchameteihem  (The Anthology of Torah Law – The Laws of Kings and Their Wars)

5:1 – Which (wars) are considered milchamot mitzvah (obligatory wars of the Jewish people / nation)?  ….a war fought to assist Israel from an enemy which attacks them.

* A war defending Israel is a milchamot mitzvah – an obligatory war upon the nation of Israel and all the Jewish people.  Hamas in Gaza firing rockets at Israeli towns and cities with increasing regularity is clearly an attack upon the people and nation of Israel, with a direct intent to murder Jews, cause destruction to Israeli infrastructure, and to force the Jews from the Land of Israel.  Without a doubt it qualifies as a milchamot mitzvah.

5:2 – There is no need to seek permission of the court (religious court of 70 elders – the sanhedrin) to wage a milchemet mitzvah.  Rather, he (the king/the leadership) may go out on his own volition and force the nation to go out.

* The political leadership is religiously authorized to engage in a defensive war, and religiously obligate the nation and Jewish people to engage.  The Israeli government clearly took the Israeli army to battle, including calling up released citizens back to army service.  They engaged the State of Israel in a defensive war.

6:1 – War… should not be waged against anybody until he is offered the opportunity of peace…  If (the enemy) accepts the offer of peace… none of them should be killed…

* The Israeli government asked Hamas to stop and have peace.  They said no (unless their outrageous demands were met).  Obligation to offer peace was met.

6:3 – It is forbidden to lie when making such a covenant or to be untruthful with them after they have made peace…

* No sneak attacks on a peace offer.  Didn’t happen.

6:4 – If they do not agree to a peaceful settlement… war should be waged against them.  In a voluntary war, ALL ADULT MALES (of fighting age) SHOULD BE KILLED… (In the obligatory wars) of the Seven Nations or Amalek refuse to accept a peaceful settlement… do not leave a soul alive.

* Lets give a little context.  Yes, you just read a religious law for genocide.  You might say “this is ridiculous, it’s inhuman, it’s monstrous in this day and age”.  Countries don’t have to perform genocide to survive, at least not any longer.  Well, except for that German thing trying to exterminate the Jews 70 years ago (you know, the Holocaust).  Or the Hutus trying to exterminate the Tutzis in Rwanda 20 years ago.  Or ISIS working on the Yazidis and Shias right now.  Now tell me with a straight face that if Hamas took over Israel they wouldn’t slaughter the Jews down to the last baby.  So yes, when you are dealing with genocidal enemies, wiping out their men or even all of them may be the only solution – as horrible as that sounds to our Western cultural ears.  But EVEN THEN, the laws of war leave them ways OUT.  Of course, first of all they can accept PEACE and stop trying to kill us.  But even in the middle of the war…

6:7 – When a siege is placed around a city to conquer it, it should not be surrounded on all four sides, only on three.  A place should be left (for the inhabitants) to flee and for those who desire to escape with their lives…

* Though you would kill us to the last child, we give you the option to LEAVE. 

I don’t expect the Israeli government is going to become genocidal, that’s STILL an approach reserved for our enemies.  But they could spend less time worried about international laws of war WHEN THE ENEMY IS COMPLETELY IGNORING THEM.

But what about the claim… “Jewish state, is bound by the treaties it has signed and the laws that emanate from them.”

Yes, this is part of 6:3 and 6:5.  So let’s go secular-legal for a moment…

The State of Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Convention.  Does the Geneva Convention, which includes many protections for civilian populations in a war zone, prohibit Israel from responding forcefully in the Gaza war situation?

The Geneva Convention is between State actors (countries) when they go to war.  Protocol IV discusses non-state actors and “resistance movements”, TO WHICH ISRAEL IS NOT A SIGNATORY.  Therefore, according to secular international law, Israel is not bound by the Geneva Convention in dealing with Gaza unless Egypt claims the territory and that claims that it is occupied by Israel.  Since it is neither occupied by Israel nor claimed by Egypt (similarly Jordan withdrew any claims to the Shomron – West Bank), legally the Geneva Conventions do not apply.

“(Geneva Convention) humanitarian law which applies during internal armed conflict gives rise to certain duties for rebels (or national liberation movements).  The minimum protection offered by Common Article 3 to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 contains obligations for ‘‘each Party to the conflict’’.  These obligations are to ‘‘Persons taking no active part in the hostilities’’ as well as to the ‘‘wounded and sick’’. The actual prohibitions include murder, violence to the person, cruel treatment, the taking of hostages, humiliating and degrading treatment, and sentences or executions without judicial safeguards. Lastly, the Article includes a positive obligation to collect and care for the sick and wounded.”  That’s ALL.

This is not what you hear from the media or Hamas/Palestinian Authority spokespeople or groupies.  But it IS what you hear from “international legal scholars”.  Which is exactly why, as much as there is screaming about Israel’s actions, there is no international legal response to them (because they are legal).

While I am not recommending, suggesting, or hinting at genocide against the people of Gaza, I am stating that attempting to protect the enemy civilians while Israel is being attacked is cruelty to Israel’s civilians AND ultimately to the civilians of Gaza (as it prolongs the conflict and destruction). 

Finally, Halachalically (according to Jewish religious law) is the State of Israel bound to uphold a treaty between nations, which applies to war between those nations and/or the people of those nations, with a non-signatory non-State actor?  Further, one who specifically DOES NOT abide by ANY of the Convention’s protocols?

(On this same point, when Israel last had a war with Lebanon, they did NOT hesitate nor send warnings to evacuate from rocket launch sites in villages in Southern Lebanon – nor were they legally obligated to do so (being a launch site is a valid military target).  Yet they did so in Gaza.  I posit this is not due to legal obligation but due to PR and lawfare.  Similarly, if the Al Susra front, currently on Israel’s northern border in the Golan starts attacking Israel, you won’t see them get the kind of gentle civilian protection you saw in Gaza – even though both Syria and Lebanon are signatories to the Geneva Convention.)


  1. To commenter - Duh, again with the PC and manipulating halacha to fit the times.
    Think about it. It's out of hand. Akivah's rant was right. Shlomo HaMelech said: there is a time to love and a time to hate! Pray for Moshiach Tzdkeinu to come immediately and he will take care of it all.

  2. Different anonymous here. Did not see that other post nonetheless the words kill them all" are disturbing. The enemy we face is violent " fundamentalist" Islam . Not all Muslims fit this description. Furthermore those who speak out against it risk their lives. In guerilla warfare civilian casualties are encouraged and used for propaganda purposes against the opponent. Furthermore in fighting against such an enemy we may kill a huge numberw of non-combatants without ucessfully wiping out a single terrorist cell. I agree that no Jewish lives should be risked in order minimize non-combatant deaths. But if casualties can be minimized without endangering Jewish people that seems appropriate.

  3. The term "Moderate Muslims" irrelevant as they are either too scared or truly believe in what their Koran says: "All non-believers (of Islam) should be killed."
    So, moderate Muslims do believe in their Koran. The funny part is when they try to skirt around the issue by saying that "That's not the Koran or it's interpretation."
    Yea, sure.....
    Either way, if you a "moderate" Muslim or a Jihadi Muslim, all non- believers are slated for death. How's them apples?

  4. Hi different anonymous again. Thinking about this post raised some questions. First let me preface certainly we must follow halacha and that was the main point of R. Akivas post he is not going against halacha.
    Questions :
    1) Is the halacha that we must kill them all? Or is the halacha more in the tone of its permitted if that is what we need to do to protect Jewish lives.

    2) Re: allowing an escape route does this apply equally to jihadis as well as to every day muslims who are not as "devote" Is it permissable to hunt down the jihadis rather than let them escape?

    3) What if the people who escape are primarily jihadis whereas the people who stay are muslims who are against jihadism and muslim ultra-extremism?

  5. In answer to Leahs question, being as how there are over a billion muslims in this world I'd say them apples are pretty rotten!

  6. The facts are as follows:

    We are facing an intractable enemy that will kill us all if it ever gets the upper hand.

    And given the Hamas penchant for digging in amongst civilians,hospitals etc. the only way to decisively take Hamas down without incurring an unacceptable losses is to more or less reduce Gaza City to a hole in the ground either by air as the Russians did in Grozny or by artillery and armor on the ground.

    I believe this needs to be done, but I also believe that we don't have the authority to take such a step without the okay of a Navi (Moshiach), the Rambam notwithstanding.

    Until then we will have to content ourselves with this game of ping pong.

  7. I would like to add a caveat to what I posted above.

    What I wrote was in reference to the killing of tens of thousands of civilians to forestall the possibility of heavy civilian casualties, chas v'shalom, on our side.

    But if we in fact did, chas v'shalom, suffer heavy losses, then we wouldn't need a Navi to wipe out Hamas.

    We would only need common sense.

    And if we don't do anything that would provoke Hashem to cease performing the nissim that He does for us second by second, we won't have to concern ourselves with doomsday scenarios in any case.

  8. Everyone forgets that what was supposed to have been done from the start was not done on purpose; therefore, as H' promised; 'they will be thorns in your sides and thistles in your eyes'. In other words, the mitzvah was to rid the Land immediately of the inhabitants therin. Israel was given to the Jews by the Creator - can there be anything more legal than that? What about the Halacha, when they come to kill you, you must kill them first.


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