Military Wiki
Kidnapping and murder of Nachshon Wachsman
Location West Bank
Date October 1994
Attack type
Kidnapping, Shooting attack
Deaths 2 Israeli soldiers (Nachshon Wachsman and one Matkal team member) and 3 Palestinian terrorists
Perpetrator Hamas 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
File:Nachson Wachsman.jpg
Native name נחשון וקסמן
Birth name Nachshon Mordechai Wachsman
Born (1975-10-03)October 3, 1975
Died October 14, 1994(1994-10-14) (aged 19)
Place of birth Jerusalem, Israel
Place of death Bir Nabala, North of Jerusalem
Allegiance  Israel
Service/branch Israeli Army (Land Arm) Flag.svg Israeli Army
Years of service August 1993 – October 14, 1994
Rank IDF Ranks Samal.svg Sergeant (promoted posthumously)
Unit Golani Brigade
Battles/wars Combat in the Israeli Security Zone in South Lebanon

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 Bible 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, the operation was carried out by Sayeret Matkal – an elite IDF commando unit. It was thought that Wachsman was being held behind an iron door, but in fact it was a solid steel door. As the commando team attempted to gain entry, it came under heavy fire by the group holding Wachsman hostage. Sayeret Matkal team commander Nir Poraz was killed, and ten Israeli soldiers were wounded. The entry team returned fire, killing the three gunmen guarding Wachsman. Eventually the team was able to break through the door and enter the room, but they were too late, as Wachsman had already been executed by his captors.[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 (Shalva Children's Center), 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 in exchange for the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.[10]

See also


External links

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