Is one allowed to kill a terrorist captured after an attack?

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu receives phone call from soldier asking if it is permissible to kill terrorist who carried out deadly attack yesterday.

Uzi Baruch,

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Flash 90

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, delivered an address in a joint broadcast by Radio Moreshet and Arutz Sheva in which he addressed a distressing phone call he received about whether it is permissible under Jewish law to kill terrorists once they are captured.

Rabbi Eliyahu was asked by a soldier if it was permissible for him to kill the terrorist who murdered Elhai Taharlev in a ramming attack near Ofra yesterday.

"During the attack one of the people who was there called me and said, 'Listen, I see now my friend is dead and I have the option to kill the terrorist. Is it permissible or not to kill him (according to Jewish law)?'"

Rabbi Eliyahu said that while the terrorist is indeed worthy of death, "the laws of this country are not amended to [allow it] and therefore there is no legal possibility of doing what needs to be done." Jewish law mandates keeping the laws of the land.

Rabbi Eliyahu answered the soldier: "If it were in the course of the attack it would have been better if you had acted and [killed the terrorist then], but now we are unfortunately after the incident" and the terrorist therefore must not be killed.

Rabbi Eliyahu said that he believes that Israeli law should be amended so that terrorists and murderers no longer receive university degrees in Israeli prisons.

"Part of the redemption is to know that there is good and evil, that what we have here is [ not a conflict between] two righteous peoples," he said, adding that it is important to distinguish "who is righteous and who is evil, who loves life and who hates life, and who for justice and who is against justice. The people of Israel love life and justice and are a blessing to the world. Those who love death have no right to this holy land."