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  • Family and Society
  • War Ethics

Electricity and civilian poplations in time of war

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Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

29 Av 5766
Question
Please share halachic insights as to what extent a jewish army can effect the daily lives of a civilian populaton in times of war. If a jewish army is at war, can it turn off the electricity to a civilian population (by either not supplying electicity, or by disabling the use of tranformers or power stations) to an area where in addition to an innocent population, there are military installations of the people who the jewish army is at war with. By turning off or disrupting the electric supply it may effect civilian hospitals and sanitation facilities
Answer
Laws of war are complex and depend on many factors some of which can be only assessed in the battlefield and some of which are only in the hands of the greatest of rabbis. In general, during the war, the life of our enemy (even the civilians) is worth less that life of our people; how much more so, the convenience and comfort of our enemy is worth less than the lives of our soldiers and civilians. Therefore if to save lives of, or to remove a risk from our soldiers, you will be allowed to cut off electricity from women and children etc. in some cases even risking lives of civilians during war will be permitted for the sake of defending Jewish lives, in some extreme cases even collectively punishing the civil population will be permitted. (Amud Hayemini 16, Tchumin 12 pp. 237-239, ibid 5 p. 353)
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il