Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef told followers on Saturday that the terrorist who murdered three members of a family on Friday night should have been killed.
Speaking at his weekly homily, Yosef spoke of 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, the terrorist who was wounded after murdering three members of one family. “Too bad they did not kill this terrorist. They should have killed him,” Yosef said.
His comments are controversial after the country has been roiled in recent months by the case of Elor Azaria, a soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting and killing a Palestinian attacker after he had been disarmed.
Yosef dedicated the lesson to the memories of the three victims, Yosef Salomon, 70, his daughter Chaya Salomon, 46, and son, Elad Salomon, 36, as well as to the speedy recovery of their wife and mother, Tova, 68, who was seriously wounded in the attack and is recovering in the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
“Every Arab terrorist who comes to murder must not return alive,” Yosef said. “If you know that he came to attack the Jewish people, you must kill him. Not just wound him, you must kill him.”
While Abed stabbed his victims, Elad’s wife managed to rush several small children into a nearby room, hold the door shut, and call the police. Soon after, Abed was shot through the window and wounded by an off-duty IDF soldier who had rushed over when he heard the screams.
The chief rabbi also spoke of the two Druze policemen who were murdered on July 14 by three Arab terrorists who emerged from the Temple Mount and shot them with guns they had smuggled into the holy site.
Yosef spoke of the close alliance between the Jews and the Druze in Israel. He recalled a visit to the family of Druze policeman Zidan Saif after the November 2014 attack in which two East Jerusalem terrorists armed with a gun, axes and meat cleavers stormed the Bnei Torah Synagogue in Har Nof. Along with Saif, who rushed to try to stop the terrorists, four worshipers were killed — Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalman Levine and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg and Haim (Howie) Yehiel Rothman.
This is not the first time that Yosef has called for the death of terrorists. In March 2016, he said Israelis should not fear courts or the opinions of security chiefs when encountering terrorists, but should kill them outright.
“If a terrorist shows up with a knife, it is commanded [by Jewish law] to kill him,” Yosef told worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue during Saturday morning prayers, according to the ultra-Orthodox news site Kikar Hashabbat.
“You shouldn’t be afraid,” he insisted, quoting the ancient rabbinic exhortation, “He who comes to kill you, arise to kill him [first].”
Yosef then cautioned Israelis not to be concerned by what he suggested were the vicissitudes of judges or generals. When faced with an armed assailant, “don’t start worrying that someone will take you to the High Court of Justice, or that some [IDF] chief of staff will say otherwise.”
According to the 2016 report, Yosef suggested a terrorist’s death served as a deterrent to future attacks, and not just as a means of neutralizing an immediate threat.
“As soon as the terrorist knows that [if] he comes at you with a knife he doesn’t return from that alive, it will deter them. Therefore it is a mitzvah [commandment] to kill him.”
However, in the 2016 speech Yosef also warned against killing a terrorist who no longer posed a threat, however, saying the not-yet arrived Messiah was the only arbiter who could sentence a non-threatening enemy to death.
“If he no longer has a knife, then he should be given a life sentence… until Messiah comes and tells us who is Amalek (the Biblical tribe the Jews are commanded to annihilate), and only then we can kill them.”