Yehuda Wachsman, the father of an IDF soldier who was abducted and murdered by Hamas terrorists in 1994, died Wednesday at the age of 73 after a long illness.
His wife Esther said her husband had never managed to get over the death of their son Nachshon.
"We [recently] marked 25 years since Nahshon was murdered," she said. "Yehuda tried so hard to save him."
Golani Brigade Sergeant Nachshon Wachsman was abducted by Hamas terrorists in October 1994. He was held hostage by the organization for six days and executed during a failed military rescue operation.
Two days after the abduction, the Hamas kidnappers released a videotape of Wachsman delivering a message from the group.
"A group from Hamas kidnapped me," Wachman said. He said his captors were demanding the release of then-Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was at the time serving a life sentence, as well as another 400 prisoners held by Israel.
"If their demands are not met, they will execute me on Friday at 8 pm," he said.
A Hamas gunman was also shown displaying the soldier's ID card and read aloud his name, home address and identity number.
Wachsman's parents immediately appealed to world leaders, including Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Muslim religious leaders to take any action necessary to secure their son's release.
While Israel began negotiating with the terrorists, the Shin Bet security service was able to arrest one of the kidnappers – a Palestinian youth with no prior offenses. His subsequent interrogation revealed that Wachsman was being held in Bir Nabala on the West Bank, northeast of Jerusalem.
Rabin ordered the military to extract the captive soldier and a rescue operation was slated for Friday, October 14. The extraction was to be carried out by Sayeret Matkal, the IDF's elite Special Forces unit.
The operation proved disastrous and riddled with technical malfunctions, including defective munitions, while faulty intelligence impeded the attempt to remove Wachsman from the room in which he was being held.
During the rescue attempt, the force came under heavy fire. Captain Nir Poraz, the extraction team commander was killed along with three of the gunmen guarding Wachsman.
When the force was finally able to break into the room they found that Wachsman had already been shot dead by his captors.
President Reuven Rivlin paid tribute Thursday to Yehuda Wachsman.
"I remember Yehuda's worry-stricken face well on our televisions during those tense days when the Nachshon's fate hung in the balance," the president said.
"We also remember how we were all united in anxiety over what would happen. This was the face of a man of faith, a man of peace, but above all, a father whose life was turned upside down,” he said.
Yehuda Wachsman was to be laid to rest in Jerusalem on Thursday evening. He is survived by his wife Esther and their son Rafael.