The Israel Defense Forces' chief rabbi told students in a pre-army yeshiva program last week that soldiers who “show mercy” toward the enemy in wartime will be “damned.”Brig. Gen. Avichai Rontzki also told the yeshiva students that religious individuals made better combat troops.Speaking Thursday at the Hesder yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron , Rontzki referred to Maimonides' discourse on the laws of war. That text quotes a passage from the Book of Jeremiah stating: “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord with a slack hand, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.” AdvertisementIn Rontzki's words, “In times of war, whoever doesn't fight with all his heart and soul is damned – if he keeps his sword from bloodshed, if he shows mercy toward his enemy when no mercy should be shown.”
Rontzki also referred to the qualities of the ideal combat soldier.
“In Israel’s wars, warriors are God-fearing people, righteous people, people who don’t have sins on their hands,” he said. “One needs to fight with an understanding of what one is fighting for.”