Israel Spares 14 Hamas Operatives In Bid To Minimize Civilian Casualties


israel-defense-forces-lt-col-peter-lernerIsraeli military officials say they are going out of their way to minimize civilian casualties in the intensifying ground invasion of Gaza, telling that some 14 Hamas terror operatives have been let off the hook after determinations that targeting them could put others at risk.

“We weigh up the potential civilian damage if we carry out a strike, against taking out or not taking out the terrorist,” Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told in an exclusive interview. “As a policy we do not target civilians intentionally and do everything in our power to [minimize casualties]. I can tell you that on at least 14 occasions – [during the current hostilities] – we have let 14 senior terrorists fly because we did not want extensive collateral damage.” Read more at Fox News.



  1. Why would the government of Israel give higher priority to other Gazans’ safety over the safety of Israelis? This is discouraging to me, and a bad policy. Their mercy on those Gazans will end up being cruel to our own brethren. The IDF’s responsibility is to save Israelis. It’s not their fault Hamas puts their people in harm’s way. Hamas has won this round and got encouraged too.

  2. Pretty dumb.
    Trying to look good in the eyes of those that hate them in any case.
    Pretty stupid.
    That same terrorist then kills a Yid r”l.
    Dumb is not the word – too mild. More like “rotzeach”.

  3. Meir, that is a wonderful question you asked, and it shows you are a thoughtful and caring individual who is interested in knowing how to apply Halachic principles to contemporary and practical situations. While I cannot claim to know the Halacha in these extremely difficult situations and trying times, and I daven every day that acheinu Bnei Yisrael in E”Y remain safe, I can mention some sources that may help to continue the discussion of what the Halacha would be regarding sparing a terrorist’s life in order to not harm innocent civilians around him.
    One angle of looking at the situation of a terrorist may be to call him a rodef. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 74a discusses the Halachos regarding a rodef. First it says that if the one being chased (the nirdaf) can be saved by simply wounding the rodef, we must try to do that and not kill him. In fact, if the nirdaf is saved through the death of the rodef, the one who killed the rodef is sentenced to death since he should have only tried to use non-lethal force to stop the rodef. If the only means of stopping the rodef is through lethal means, then that is allowed.
    The Gemara continues by discussing what happens if the nirdaf damages property while fleeing from the rodef, or if a third person who saw the “chase” and attempts to save the nirdaf by killing the rodef damages property in his pursuit of the rodef is liable for the damage he caused. The Gemara concludes that he is not liable for the damage he causes to another person’s property because if he were then no one would ever try to save a nirdaf from a rodef because they will be afraid they will cause property damage and be liable for it. This whole discussion revolves around property damage, but the Gemara in its continuation that one may NOT kill an innocent bystander because of the principle “who says your blood is redder than his.” If we apply the Gemara to the current war we may be forced to conclude that firing a missle and destroying the building a terrorist (rodef) is hiding out in is permissible, but would not be allowed if there were civilians in the same building.
    Perhaps killing terrorists in the current war should not be considered killing a rodef, but rather it should have the Halachos of a Milchama. The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim Umilchamos (Kings and Wars) discusses milchemes mitzva and milchemes reshus. A milchemes mitzva is a war against the 7 nations and Amalek. Nowadays we don’t know who is considered either of these so those Halachos may not be applicable in contemporary times. I also don’t know if we can consider any contemprary war a milchemes reshus because we don’t have a King or a Sanhedrin. However if we were to follow the principles of the Rambam we would see the following. In 6:1 he states that we may not start a war unless we give the opportunity first for the opposing individual or nation to make peace. If that fails and we go to war, the Rambam writes in 6:4 that we do kill the adult males but we do not kill the women and children. In a contemporary war too like the one occurring in Gaza right now it would seem all measures should be taken to prevent civilian deaths.
    Finally, even if we don’t know the Halacha, I think it is important to consider the spirit of the Law and the Torah and what Hashem would want when deciding whether to kill civilians when taking out terrorists. When Hashem went to visit Avraham to tell him of the impending destruction of Sodom, Avraham remarkably fights with Hashem and His decision to kill everyone in Sodom by asking would He kill the righteous along with the wicked. Had there been enough righteous people in Sodom Hashem would have agreed to Avraham’s request and would have spared the city even though it would mean evil would be able to thrive. While I do not know the status of civilians in Gaza, I think it is safe to assume that not all 1.8 million people living there are completely evil. I may of course be wrong, but we should at least try to think like Avraham Avinu and give them the benefit of the doubt and try to prevent civilian death even at the expense of terrorists remaining alive.
    Of course, however, we are not in charge in E”Y and it is the Israeli government influenced by Western values that is making the decisions. The questions raised by Yerushalmi in comment #2 are all valid questions and are probably the ones the government and army asks themselves when making these decisions.
    I hope I shed some light on your comment and may we speedily see the end of this conflict and the coming of Mashiach in our time.
    I hope I judged you correctly in that you had genuine curiosity on the subject. (If you were posting that comment just to be a wise guy, then you have not business posting and should keep your thoughts and remarks to yourself).

  4. that would be the case if the civilians are innocent, but it the civilian women and children are being raised to be terrorists then there is no point in protecting them.

  5. that would be the case if the civilians are innocent, but it the civilian women and children are being raised to be terrorists then there is no point in protecting them.

  6. Who’s lives are the IDF sworn to protect? Israeli’s or Palestinians? They know that sparing a terrorist will only come back to Murder Israeli’s the next day. As President Obama said: its Hamas responsibility to prevent “inoccent” Palestinian death’s. You see what happened yesterday. The Arabs MURDERED 15 Israeli soldiers. What is Israel’s problem? This is not a time for fake mercy. Hamas is bent on murdering every Jew they can get. Do they really not care that their own boys are being killed? If this is indeed the IDF policy, then they are the dumbest most stupid peole to ever walk the face of the earth.

  7. Because they spare Arab murderers our solders get killed there. Now they sent our solders to go from house to house. Another 7 were killed bringing it to 25. They could have evaporated Gaza from the air if they wanted to. Instead for more than 10 days they were bombing them with fliers and making worming phone calls to leave their buildings. Oy Lanu Hatonu, Oy lanu Poshanu.
    Now, even after they sent these poor solders with light weapons into the teeth of these beasts to go from house, they still stop them from fighting full strength because of so called civilians. The death of these 25 soldiers and all the wounded soldiers are on the heads of these generals and government who care about enemy beasts and not about their own. They still bomb empty buildings and empty places with fliers and supply Gaza with everything.

  8. I fear Chaim ,comment 6,attempt to clarify matters only muddy the waters .

    By comparing Hamas to a rodef , by saying that a rodef should in the first instance be stopped by trying to wound him rather than kill him, overlooks the fact that the gemora he quotes is discussing the case of one Yid chasing another yid , not in a case of a goy/ Hamas who is a serial Rozech.

    The current situation in Gaza is a pure case of Pikuach Nefesh , against which all the rules of engagement are irrelevant ,and every thing becomes permissible.

    This is a case of Haboah Lehorgacha Hascham Vhorgo.

    I would compare the actions of Hamas of “Aboah Bemachteress” ( no pun intended) one who comes through the tunnel knowing full well that he may be killed by the resistance of the opposing party, and he is, and must accept responsibly for all ensuing eventualities and consequences of his actions..