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Kidnapping and murder of Nachshon Wachsman

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Kidnapping and murder of Nachshon Wachsman
LocationWest Bank
DateOctober 1994
Attack type
Kidnapping, Shooting attack
Deaths2 Israeli soldiers (Nachshon Wachsman and one Matkal team member) and 3 Palestinian terrorists
PerpetratorHamas claimed responsibility

The Kidnapping and murder of Nachshon Wachsman was an incident in which Palestinian Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman from the Bnai Atarot junction in central Israel, and held him hostage for 6 days. The incident ended in a failed Israeli rescue attempt, during which Wachsman was killed by his captors. Three of his captors and an Israeli officer were also killed.


Nachshon Wachsman
Nachson Wachsman.jpg
Native name
נחשון וקסמן
Birth nameNachshon Mordechai Wachsman
Born(1975-10-03)October 3, 1975
Jerusalem, Israel
DiedOctober 14, 1994(1994-10-14) (aged 19)
Bir Nabala, North of Jerusalem
Allegiance Israel
Service/branchIsraeli Army
Years of serviceAugust 1993 – October 14, 1994
RankIDF Ranks Samal.svg Sergeant (promoted posthumously)
UnitGolani Brigade
Battles/warsCombat in the Israeli Security Zone during the South Lebanon conflict

Sergeant Nachshon Mordechai Wachsman (Hebrew: נחשון מרדכי וקסמן‎, born April 3, 1975, died October 14, 1994) was an IDF soldier who was kidnapped and held hostage by Hamas for a period of 6 days.

A dual citizen of Israel and the United States, Wachsman was raised in Jerusalem. He was the third of seven sons born to Yehuda and Esther Wachsman. His father was Israeli-born, while his mother was born in a German displaced persons camp and immigrated to Israel from Brooklyn.[1] Wachsman volunteered for an elite commando unit of the Golani Brigade, serving in the Orev Golani.[2]


At home on a leave, Wachsman was instructed by the military to attend a one-day training course in northern Israel. He left Saturday night after Shabbat, telling his parents he would return Sunday night, October 9, 1994. He was last seen by a friend who reported that, after completing the training, Wachsman had been dropped off at the Bnai Atarot junction, a highly populated area in central Israel, where he could either catch a bus or hitchhike, a common practice of Israeli soldiers,[3] to Jerusalem.[4]

Israeli intelligence learned that Wachsman entered a car in which there were Hamas militants wearing kippot, who had a Tanakh and siddur on the dashboard, and Chassidic music playing.[1]

Mohammed Deif stated that he was the commander of the operation to abduct Wachsman.[5]

Hostage tape

On October 11, 1994, a videotape was broadcast showing Wachsman, with his hands and feet bound, before a keffiyeh-covered militant who was displaying Wachsman's identity card. After the militant recited the hostage's home address and identity number, Wachsman spoke, with the armed militant behind him, saying:

The group from Hamas kidnapped me. They are demanding the release of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and another 200 from Israeli prison. If their demands are not met, they will execute me on Friday at 8 P.M."[4]

Nachshon's parents personally appealed to world leaders, including Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, US President Bill Clinton, and Muslim religious leaders.[4]

On October 14, 1994, with 24 hours until the ultimatum, prayer vigils were held in many places. Over 100,000 people representing all religious, political, and social segments of the Israeli population gathered at the Western Wall. Responding to a request by Esther Wachsman, Nachshon's mother, many women lit an extra Sabbath candle for her son.[1]

Rescue attempt

In the meantime, the Israeli military had captured Jihad Yarmur, the driver of the car that had picked up Wachsman.[1] Interrogating Yarmur, they learned that Wachsman was being held in the village of Bir Nabala, a location under Israeli control located only ten minutes away from Wachsman's home in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Prime Minister Rabin authorized a military rescue attempt.[4]

On Friday October 14 Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat announced that they had won the Nobel Peace Prize. When Peres was asked his opinion on the "peace" that he had achieved in Oslo in light of Hamas' impending deadline, he responded that the peace process involves "calculated risks."[6]

At 20:00 that night, at the hour of the ultimatum, elite IDF commandos from the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit carried out an operation to free Wachsman. It was thought that Wachsman was being held behind an iron door, but in fact it was a solid steel door, and the first explosion only dented the door. The commandos immediately lost the element of surprise, giving Wachsman's captors inside time to shoot him dead and position themselves for the impending firefight. A second explosive charge was prepared and the door was finally blasted open after more than a minute, and after a heavy exchange of fire with gunmen waiting on the stairwell, the commandos reached a second iron door, and had to wait another four minutes for the charges to be set. During this time, the commandos shouted to the gunmen inside to surrender, while the gunmen replied that Waschsman was already dead and that they preferred to die. After the team broke through the door, another exchange of fire took place before the room was secured. In total, three gunmen were killed and two taken prisoner, while the leader of the commando team, Captain Nir Poraz was killed and nine commandos were wounded. Wachsman was found dead in the room. His body was slumped in a chair, wearing a kafiyeh and civilian clothes. He had been shot in the throat and chest at close range.[4][7] The Wachsman family was informed of his death personally by General Yoram Yair.[8]



Wachsman was buried on Saturday night October 15, 1994 in the Mount Herzl military cemetery.[1]

Wachsman's Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Mordechai Elon, gave his eulogy. At the request of Wachsman's bereaved father, the rabbi told the crowd of mourners that God did listen to their prayers, and that just as a father would always like to say "yes" to all of his children's requests, sometimes he must say "no" though the child might not understand why. "So too our Father in Heaven heard our prayers, and though we don't understand why, His answer was 'no.'"[1]

Beit Nachshon

Today "Beit Nachshon" at the SHALVA Center in Jerusalem, an association for mentally and physically challenged children, is dedicated to Wachsman's memory.[9]

Driver convicted and imprisoned; released in Shalit exchange

Jihad Yarmur was convicted of the murder of Nachshon Wachsman. He was released in October 2011 as one of 1027 prisoners exchanged for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f His Name was Nachshon Wachsman Archived July 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine OU.org
  2. ^ "Reflections: The Wachsman Kidnapping – Inside Israel". Arutz Sheva. October 13, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  3. ^ Jerusalem Post, IDF launches campaign against hitchhiking, June 5, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Nachshon Wachsman". Ynetnews.com. October 9, 1994. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  5. ^ Hamas' True Terrorist Leader FrontPage Magazine, March 29, 2004
  6. ^ "No strength for silence". jewishledger.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  7. ^ Matthew Levitt. Negotiating Under Fire: Preserving Peace Talks in the Face of Terror Attacks. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  8. ^ 1995 April: Patterns of global terrorism, 1994 US Department of State
  9. ^ "SHALVA Jerusalem - Shalva : The Association for Mentally & Physically Challenged Children in Israel". www.shalva.org. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  10. ^ Lappin, Yaakov (October 13, 2011). "Planners of Park Hotel bombing attack 'set to go free'". Jerusalem Post.

External links