Israeli Police Recommend Closing Case Against Yeshiva Head Who Said All Gazans Should Be Killed

The prosecutor's office has the final say in the case against Rabbi Eliyahu Mali of Jaffa, who said that children and the elderly in Gaza also shouldn't be spared

June 18th, 01AM June 18th, 01AM

The Israel Police recently recommended shelving the case against Rabbi Eliyahu Mali of the Shirat Moshe Yeshiva in Jaffa for remarks made in March in which he said Jewish religious law requires the killing of the entire population of the Gaza Strip, including babies and the elderly.

The case against Mali, who founded his yeshiva – a "hesder" yeshiva, which combines religious study with army service – was opened following a complaint that his remarks constituted incitement.

The police refused to provide an explanation to Haaretz regarding its recommendation that the case be shelved. The final decision in the matter is up to the prosecutor's office.

Mali made the remarks at a conference of hesder yeshivas on March 7, where he spoke about the need for a war in fulfillment of religious commandments that he claimed, in the case of the war in Gaza, wouldn't leave "a soul" alive there.

"Today's terrorists are the children of the prior [military] operation that left them alive. The women are essentially the ones who are producing the terrorists," he said, adding that when someone comes to kill you, you should be quick to kill them. "It's not only the 14- or 16-year-old boy, the 20- or 30-year-old man who takes up a weapon against you but also the future generation. There's really no difference," Mali said. "Because it's a sensitive subject and I've been told that [my remarks] would be posted on the internet, I want to say in advance that the bottom line is the need to do exactly what the IDF orders say."

After Rabbi Mali's remarks were reported, Eitay Mack, a lawyer representing the anti-racism organization Tag Meir, demanded that a criminal investigation be opened against the rabbi on suspicion of incitement. Mack claimed that a statement in January by Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and State Prosecutor Amit Aisman in which they warned that calls for harm to innocent Gazans might constitute criminal incitement have not entered the public consciousness.

On May 1, Aisman's office informed Mack in a letter that the complaint was being examined. Haaretz has learned that the police have recommended that it be shelved, but the final decision is up to the State Prosecutor's Office as to whether to close the file or to pursue a criminal investigation against Mali.

In 2021, Mali was attacked by two Arab Jaffa residents, brothers Ahmed and Mahmoud Garbua. Six months later, they were convicted in a plea agreement in the case. The indictment against the two did not allege that the attack on Mali was committed out of racist motives and it included a finding that the attack was carried out due to the brothers' opposition to the yeshiva's plans to buy a plot of land near their home.

In January, amid legal proceedings and investigations against Israel and Israeli leaders at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Israeli Attorney General Baharav-Miara said that she had begun acting against statements of incitement that encourage harm to civilians in Gaza.

At the end of January, the International Court of Justice issued interim orders in a case involving South Africa's allegations of genocide against Israel. The orders required Israel to take all steps at its disposal to prevent genocide – which it denies committing – as well as actions harming the residents of Gaza and required Israel to permit humanitarian assistance into the Strip to ease conditions there.

But it also ordered Israel to punish those inciting genocide. In its decision, the World Court, which denied South Africa's request to order a cease-fire in Gaza, quoted from statements by senior Israeli officials relating to harm to residents of the Strip.

Since Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel, the Israeli police have conducted hundreds of investigations against Arab citizens of the country on suspicion of incitement to terrorism and have filed dozens of indictments for incitement. Human rights organizations have alleged that the ease with which the police have called people in for questioning as well as arrests and indictments violate Arab Israelis' right to freedom of expression and have made legitimate expressions of opinion something that the police deem impermissible.

At the same time, since the beginning of the war, prosecutors have examined more than 80 cases of potential statements of anti-Arab incitement by Israelis. State Prosecutor Aisman recently recommended that some of them be pursued as criminal cases.

2024-06-17T22:21:18Z dg43tfdfdgfd