Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, told listeners during his weekly Torah class that it was a “mitzvah” to kill terrorists during attacks. The Chief Rabbi also said that in the heat of the moment, one should not worry about potential legal problems.
“If a terrorist comes after someone while brandishing a knife, it’s a mitzvah to kill him – [as the Talmudic maxim says] ‘when one comes to kill you, kill him first’. Don’t worry about being taken to court afterwards, or that IDF Chief of Staff will criticize it; don’t worry about that.”
Rabbi Yosef argued that killing terrorists not only neutralizes the immediate threat, it can help deter future attackers as well.
“As soon as a terrorist knows that if he goes out with a knife he won’t be coming back alive, that will deter them, so it’s a mitzvah to kill him; as soon as one of them comes brandishing a knife looking to murder, it’s a mitzvah to kill him."
Once a terrorist has been neutralized and disarmed, however, Rabbi Yosef rules that the terrorist shouldn’t be killed on the spot; rather, he must be imprisoned for life.
“If he [the terrorist] doesn’t have the knife anymore, then he needs to be given a life sentence.”
Last Thursday, Ramat Gan Rabbi Ya’akov Ariel made a similar ruling, prohibiting the killing of terrorists once they have been neutralized and pose no threat.