More on Exchanging Prisoners with Terrorists
There has been much discussion about the recent prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, see a little from me here, this post for a summary of some halakhic opinions, and this one for a discussion from a security standpoint (hat tip). What has been pointed out by some, and all of these discussions are relatively easy for those who are typing on a keyboard and not worrying about the fate of a loved one, is what is the distinction between paying ransom for living prisoners versus those who are known to be, or assumed to be, dead. I do remember a number of years ago there was a deadly attack against Israeli soldiers along the Philadelphia Corridor on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. If I recall correctly, a number of soldiers were killed trying to retrieve the body parts of other soldiers who had been killed when their vehicle was blown up. Soon afterwards, R. Yuval Sherlo said that we must remember that our first priority is to protect the living, and not the dead. It is difficult to think that one would knowingly leave behind body parts that will very likely be desecrated, but it raises a number of difficult questions. One interesting aspect of the question is the possible tension between religious/moral and national values. Every soldier wants to know that they will never be left behind, but should that be done at the expense of other soldier’s lives? Rabbi Sherlo’s remarks can be found here (Hebrew). See other relevant comments here (although some sources would be nice). שלא נדע מצרות הכאלה.