Here’s a scorching post by Yossi Gurvitz at +972 on Jewish religious law on the issue of soldiers raping women during war.
Answering a question from a concerned reader regarding the Torah’s position on rape during war, Colonel Eyal Qarim of the Military Rabbinate wrote nine years ago – out of uniform – that ‘prohibitions against immorality’ are removed during war….
Q. Is it allowed in our days [sic] for an IDF soldier, for example, to rape girls during a fight, or is such a thing forbidden?
Rabbi Qarim answered thus:
“The wars of Israel […] are mitzvah wars, in which they differ from the rest of the wars the nations wage among themselves. Since, essentially, a war is not an individual matter, but rather nations wage war as a whole, there are cases in which the personality of the individual is “erased” for the benefit of the whole. And vice versa: sometimes you risk a large unit for the saving of an individual, when it is essential for purposes of morale. One of the important and critical values during war is maintaining the army’s fighting ability […]
As in war the prohibition against risking your life is broken for the benefit of others, so are the prohibitions against immorality and of kashrut. Wine touched by gentiles, consumption of which is prohibited in peacetime, is allowed at war, to maintain the good spirit of the warriors. Consumption of prohibited foods is permitted at war (and some say, even when kosher food is available), to maintain the fitness of the warriors, even though they are prohibited during peacetime. Just so, war removes some of the prohibitions on sexual relations (gilui arayot in the original – YZG), and even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime (under the specific terms) out of understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors. And since the success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge (yetzer ha’ra in the original -YZG), under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.”
Wow. Herein lies a hornet’s nest. The first is that according to Qarim, the rape of female prisoners is not just permitted, it is also essential to war; the success of the whole at war relies on it. Even Genghis Khan, who (according to tradition) said that the best thing in the world is “to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet — to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best” – even he, who excelled at rape, did not see it as essential to warfare, just a satisfactory outcome. Stalin, likewise, dismissed complaints about rapes carried out massively by the Red Army by saying “a soldier has urges,” but he did not see it as an essential element of military life.