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What would be a halachik justification for mediating a deal involving releasing terrorists, who may well murder more victims, in exchange for remains of past victims?

Related: Why is the head of the OU Kashrut department in Qatar?, a Jerusalem Post article which describes contacts between orthodox American Jews and Qatar to advance a prisoner swap with Hamas.

  • Are you presupposing that it is permissible, or asking whether it is permissible? – mevaqesh Nov 7 '17 at 1:18
  • I allowed myself to edit the title as it might have been understood as exchanging terrorists for live prisoners - feel free to revert if you disagree – mbloch Nov 7 '17 at 10:18
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A couple of debatable justifications are:

  1. If the government (military) being apathetic to corpses would negatively influence future soldiers from being drafted by knowing captured bodies are doomed to abandonment.
  2. If withheld soldiers (bodies) will necessitate ongoing searches which may present other extreme military predicaments.

See here (and n. 24 in name of R. SZ Auerbach).

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Poskim have nearly always come out against exchanges of terrorists for live prisoners (see for instance R Aviner, R Melamed and a detailed study from chabad), therefore even more so for bodies (see here a recent announcement from R Yaakov Ariel, R Dov Lior, R Chaim Druckman and R Shlomo Aviner).

The only justification I could find comes in an article from R Shlomo Brody

Interestingly, when Rabbi Goren later republished his essay, he concluded like Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli, who believed that the government must take full responsibility for its soldiers, deeming it analogous to someone paying an exorbitant price to redeem themselves [...]

Scholars who permit such exchanges, however, note they are not mandatory and are subject to various political and military considerations.

Unfortunately in Israel, at the time of your question, the debate is nearly entirely political, with political leaders responding to the families of the bereaved.

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