An Israeli human rights group on Monday called for the immediate dismissal of the chief military rabbi, claiming he gave soldiers fighting in Gaza pamphlets urging them to show no mercy.
Yesh Din said it had written to both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, urging them to "take this incitement seriously and fire Chief Military Rabbi" Brigadier General Avi Ronzki.
It said a pamphlet distributed to soldiers taking part in Operation Cast Lead stressed that the troops should show no mercy to their enemies, and that the pamphlet borders "on incitement and racism against the Palestinian people."
"When you show mercy to a cruel enemy you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers," Yesh Din quoted the pamphlet as saying.
It said the pamphlet quotes at length statements by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a spiritual leader of the Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank who opposes any compromise with Palestinians.
"The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country," the pamphlet quoted Aviner as saying.
"[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it." another excerpt said.
The rights group said the pamphlet contains "degrading and belittling messages that border on incitement and racism against the Palestinian people. These messages can be interpreted as a call to act outside of the confines of international laws of war."
The Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday that far right-wing groups also gave out pamphlets bearing racist messages on military bases.
It said one urged soldiers to "spare your lives and the lives of your friends and not to show concern for a population that surrounds us and harms us..."
"Kill the one who comes to kill you. As for the population, it is not innocent," the daily quoted the pamphlet as saying.