A controversial Israeli rabbi has encouraged the use of Palestinians as human shields by army soldiers, even if the victim happens to be a civilian.
"Anything you do to keep the war tough is permissible, and obligatory according to the Torah," Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, headmaster of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, wrote in fliers distributed to his students, the Ha’aretz reported on its website on Wednesday.
"According to true Jewish values, your lives come before those of the enemy, whether he is a soldier or a civilian under protection. Therefore, you are forbidden from endangering your own life for the sake of the enemy, not even for a civilian," declared Shapira, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar.
The rabbi was arrested in the summer for encouraging Jews to kill non-Jews in his book The King’s Torah.
Last month, Israel’s southern command military court convicted two Israeli soldiers of using human shields during the December 2008-January 2009 war against the Gaza Strip.
The so-called Operation Cast Lead left more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly women and children, dead and thousands of others injured, while reducing scores of houses and edifices to rubbles.
Soon after the 22-day conflict, an independent fact-finding team commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the offensive found Israeli forces guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The report by the head of the commission, South African prosecutor Richard Goldstone, listed — among other things — instances where Israeli soldiers used Palestinian civilians as human shields upon entering buildings thought to hole up resistance fighters
Last month, an Israeli military court convicted two soldiers of offenses including inappropriate behavior and overstepping authority for ordering an 11-year-old Palestinian following the Gaza war to search bags suspected to have been booby trapped.