Rabbi Yaakov Ariel
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel Shlomi Shilmoni

The rabbi of the coastal town of Ramat Gan, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, on Tuesday sharply criticized the possibility that Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni may order an investigation against Givati Brigade soldiers, who took part in the fighting in Gaza's Rafah last August 1 during Operation Protective Edge.

That day Hamas terrorists breached a ceasefire and killed three soldiers, abducting the body of one of them, Second Lt. Hadar Goldin hy”d.

In the ensuing chase, IDF artillery pulverized the area near the tunnel into which Goldin's body was abducted as part of the Hannibal Protocol that the IDF employs in such cases – using all means to eliminate the abducting terrorists, even if it means killing the abducted soldier as well. Dozens of Arab residents were reportedly killed, leading some leftists to demand that soldiers be put on trial.

"As a matter of principle it is completely forbidden to treat soldiers as criminal suspects, unless it is a most rare incident of a lone soldier who did completely forbidden acts, such as unnecessarily killing an innocent civilian for no reason," said Rabbi Ariel.

The rabbi added that the soldiers' actions of defending the Jewish state are a mitzvah (Torah commandment), and therefore they should not be treated as suspects.

"In war there are different rules and civilian rules do not apply," said Rabbi Ariel. "In war you can't prevent harm for every civilian, and just as King Shaul (Saul) said to the Kenite tribe, 'go, depart from the Amalekites' (Samuel 1 15:6). Depart from there because when I fight Amalek, I won't be able to ensure that you aren't harmed."

"In a time of war, the soldier doesn't sort with tweezers who is a civilian and who isn't, and therefore the demand from civilians is to evacuate the place, and a civilian who is harmed - their blood is on their own head, unless a lone soldier pursued a civilian in a very unusual manner, and then there are grounds to investigate him," he added.

In conclusion, the rabbi emphasized "therefore, the soldiers did their faithful work and it is completely forbidden to treat them like criminal suspects."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) last Thursday sought to dispel rumors that the soldiers are to be investigated, saying that no such investigation is taking place. Nevertheless, the rabbi's words speak to the ongoing concern that an investigation is currently being weighed.

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