Israel’s recent release of a large number of convicted terrorists in return for a single Israeli soldier has struck many as odd. The great value that the country’s leaders ascribe to protecting its soldiers from enemy captivity also finds reflections in military policies disclosed by its conduct during the 2008-09 operation Cast Lead in Gaza. In failing to understand the defensible rationale for such policies, critics have charged Israel with causing disproportionate civilian harm, in violation of international criminal and humanitarian law. This Article explains and justifies how Israel came to place such priority on safeguarding its soldiers. We then show that its priorities in this regard are both consistent with such law and more widely shared by other democratic states than generally acknowledged.