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Israeli rabbis: Thou shalt kill civilians

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Four leading Israeli rabbis have sanctioned the murder of civilian population in the Gaza Strip amid the Israeli onslaught on the region.

"When a population living near a Jewish town sends bombs at the Jewish town with the purpose of killing and destroying Jewish lives there, it is permitted, according to Jewish Law, to fire shells and bombs at the firing sites, even if they are populated by civilians," read a ruling issued by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe and Rabbi Meir Mazuz.

The four added that a warning should be issued prior to any attacks; however, they reiterated that the army's response to rocket or mortar fires may be immediate "even if there is no time for a warning."

The rabbis argued that the army should announce that it would bomb any civilian community from which a rocket is fired to force the local residents into confronting those who fire rockets or mortars at Israeli targets.

Rabbi Mazuz is a member of the Shas Council of Torah Sages.

The ruling seems to give a free hand to Israeli commanders to attack Gaza's civilian population and persuade those troops who have reservations to kill civilians due to humanitarian considerations.

Tel Aviv launched an "all-out war" against the enclave allegedly to put an end to rocket attacks by Palestinian factions on Israel. IAF warplanes and helicopters have so far pounded over 300 targets, including schools and TV stations across the coastal area since Saturday.

The attacks have left at least 385 people killed and 1,800 others wounded, Palestinian medical sources told Press TV.

According to UN officials, 57 civilians, including women and children, are among the victims.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, however, had formerly downplayed the high number of civilian deaths saying civilian casualties are a quite normal outcome of war.

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