JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel said religious law obligates one to kill a terrorist brandishing a knife who is trying to stab someone.
“If a terrorist is coming with a knife, it’s a mitzvah to kill him,” Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef declared in his weekly Torah lesson on Saturday night, which was first reported on the haredi Orthodox news website Kikar HaShabbat.
“One shouldn’t start being afraid that someone will petition the High Court of Justice or some chief of staff will come and say something different. There is no need to be afraid. ‘He who comes to kill you, get up and kill him,’” he added, citing a rabbinic commandment dealing with self-defense.
Yosef was referring to a pronouncement last month by Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, at a Tel Aviv-area high school in response to a student’s question about soft rules of engagement.
“The IDF cannot speak in slogans, such as ‘if someone comes to kill you, arise to kill them first,’ or ‘everyone who carries scissors should be killed,’” Eisenkot said. “I don’t want a soldier to empty a magazine on a girl with scissors.”
Yosef also asserted that the threat of being killed by an attacker’s would-be victim will deter such attacks.
“When a terrorist knows if he comes with a knife he won’t return alive, it deters them, so therefore it’s a mitzvah to kill him,” he said.
The rabbi also said that if the attacker has been disarmed, he should be sent to prison for the rest of his life.