Nachshon Waxman - Countdown To Death

Years before the soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and taken to Gaza for nearly four years, Hamas had already established kidnapping IDF soldiers as a doctrine. With that in mind, they made their statement in 1994 with the kidnapping of soldier Nachshon Waxman. Holding him in an undisclosed location, they made their demands. If the demands were not met by the end of the week, on Friday night, they would execute him. And so the countdown began.

Mixing interviews with the central players in the event, including Waxmans mother and father and security officials, and news reporting of the time, the film recreates the tension following the kidnapping. For a week, the entire country of Israel held its breath waiting to see what would happen, praying for his safe return (this is not just a vague expression, there were rallies held across the country where psalms were said for his benefit). As the clock ticked down to the deadline, it was unclear if Israel would recreate the stunning rescue of Entebbe, give in to the demands, or sit by and call their bluff. As the film recounts, the lack of actionable intelligence of where Waxman was being held was the roadblock.

With the deadline rapidly approaching, the Israeli government faced an existential dilemma, if they gave in to the terrorists demands, they would open the door to further kidnappings of soldiers with the intent of releasing Palestinian prisoners. While Judaism has a tradition of vigorous Talmudic debate regarding giving into ransom demands, there was a pragmatism to the reality of the situation. They could not sit idly by and let time run out. While this was decades before Al-Qaeda and ISIS harnessed the internet and visual media, releasing in real time videos of their executions, Hamas had already released a video of Waxman reading their demands. Who was to say they wouldnt release a video of his execution, intensifying an already tense situation. Ultimately the Israeli intelligence services were able to find where Waxman was being held and attempted a rescue just as time was running out on the deadline. Unfortunately however, they were unable to save Waxman. This is the story behind that attempt.