Israel’s Yishai apologizes for saying soldiers do not have faith

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai apologized for saying that Israel fell short in the Second Lebanon War because its soldiers did not have faith.

Yishai, amid calls for his removal from office, said Wednesday in a statement that his words were taken out of context and that only a small portion of his 15-minute speech, which was recorded, was played the previous day on Israel’s Channel 10 News.

"The quotes attributed to me were taken with intentional bias and are not correct," said Yishai, who heads the Sephardic Orthodox Shas Party. "When people believe, it is clear to us that the victories in Israel’s wars depend on faith in the creator of the world.

"I apologize to all of the bereaved families whose sons gave their lives for the people and the land. The bereaved families and the fallen soldiers are holy to the people of Israel."

Yishai had said earlier in the week in the remarks quoted by Channel 10 that the army was successful in the Six-Day War because every soldier and every Jew "raised their eyes to the creator" and prayed, and during the Second Lebanon War the soldiers only relied on their abilities.

"This is a great lesson," Yishai had said. "When all Arab states are against the Jewish people, what will save the Jewish people is Torah study."

Parents of soldiers who fell in the Second Lebanon War are sending a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Yishai be removed from the Cabinet, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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