Countdown To Death | Levi Zini

2010 | 50 min | Hebrew & Arabic | English Subtitles


Sunday, October 9, 1994. Nachson Wachsman, a 20 year old Israeli soldier, gets a short leave from the army. He joins an army colleague and heads to central Israel to visit a female friend. On their way, his friend testified, they discussed girl issues: Young Wachsman hoped to finally overcome his shyness with women on that leave. At the same time, Jihad Yarmur, a 28 years old Palestinian practical engineer from East Jerusalem, rents a red van from a local car rental and sets off to pick up his friends. Today, they decide, they will do what they had been planning for a long time: they will kidnap an Israeli.

17:25: Wachsman leaves his friend at a central crossroad and waits for a lift at a pick up stop. Jihad and his friends notice the single soldier and quickly take advantage of the situation. “Where to?” Jihad asks in Hebrew, Wachsman replies and Jihad invites: “Come on up”. Four men dressed up as orthodox Jews are in the car. The soldier seats himself in the back seat, the van speeds along and Wachsman makes attempts at conversation. A dark sack, prepared in advance, is immediately dragged over his head. He is beaten and thrown onto the van floor. The red vehicle makes its way to the getaway house. The countdown begins.

The day after a video tape is delivered. The kidnappers, members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing  of the Hamas, demand the immediate release of their religious leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, as well as other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the life of the abducted soldier. They set a deadline: Friday, October 14, 1994 at 21:00. The abduction lasted six intensive, hectic days that created painful human dramas:

  • Between hostage and abductors
  • Within families hanging between hope and despair
  • The drama of decision-making that determines human life
  • A thrilling intelligence operation
  • A tragic ending to an unsuccessful rescue operation





50 min






Directed by:

Levi Zini

Created and Produced by:

Arik Bernstein

Levi Zini

Alma Films


Daner Glazer

Yoram Milo

Amos Geutta


Levi Zini

Eyal Blachson


Shlomit Carmeli

Produced For:

Keshet TV

With Support From:

The New Israeli Fund For Cinema And TV

Greenhouse Films