Recording of Israel Spy Eli Cohen Unearthed 45 Years After His Death

Haaretz
Haaretz

Rare recordings of prominent Israeli spy Eli Cohen were unearthed by Army Radio on Sunday, 45 years after Cohen was hung in Damascus, once his cover as a Buenos Aires-based Arab businessman was blown by Syrian authorities.

Cohen's cover had allowed him to form close relationships with senior Syrian army officers and government officials. He conveyed invaluable information to Israel, warning of a planned Syrian strike on the National Water Carrier and providing information that led to Israel's defeat of the Syrian army in the Six-Day War.

The recordings consist of brief interview Cohen gave to Damascus Radio, playing the part of Syrian businessman Kamel Amin Thaabet, in which he described Buenos Aires and its community of expatriate Syrians.

In the interview, Cohen, who was 42 at the time of his death, discussed the social clubs which Syrians residing in Buenos Aires frequent, describes the Argentinean capital and gave advice as to ways the Syrian government could attract some its wealthier citizens residing abroad.

"There things in Syria which I find more beautiful than I first thought," Cohen can be heard telling his interviewer in the recording obtained by Army Radio, "and some not as beautiful."

When asked which language Syrian expatriates used to communicate among themselves in Argentina, Cohen can be heard to answer that the "expatriates speak Arabic", adding that the "melodies are Arab, the music is Arab, and even news from Syria reaches there".

Cohen's cover was exposed by a sophisticated system Russia had supplied to the Syrians, which enabled them to intercept some of Cohen's transmissions to Israel. After being tortured, he was tried by a military tribunal and was hanged in Al-Marja Square in Damascus.

Cohen's family had repeatedly appealed Syria to return his remains for burial in Israel, but Damascus had rejected those requests, refusing to confirm whether or not it had Cohen's body in its possession.

Eli Cohen.Credit: Archive

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