Unconfirmed Report: Syrian Opposition to Return Body of Israeli Spy Eli Cohen

The Lebanese LBC media outlet subsequently removed the report from its website. Last week, a Syrian Facebook page posted a video showing his execution in Damascus in 1965.

Ofer Aderet
Eli Cohen at his trial in Damascus in 1965.
Eli Cohen (left) at his trial in Damascus in 1965.Credit: AFP
Ofer Aderet

The Lebanese LBC media outlet reported Wednesday that the Syrian opposition will hand over the body of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, executed in Damascus in 1965, to Israel. LBC subsequently removed the article from its site.

No source in Israel or outside of it was able to confirm the report.

Nadia Cohen, Eli Cohen's widow, told Haaretz that she was "confused" by the reports. "It's a strange report. It simply drove us crazy," she said. Cohen added that she would talk with Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen Thursday morning "to find out if the report is true, and whether a message has been sent to certain organizations or just to the media." She added that she was worried that "the report was aimed at fooling us in order to hurt us." She said she hoped that "there really is a message that will make us happy."

Cohen was born in Egypt in 1924 and moved to Israel in 1957. In 1960, the Mossad recruited him and sent him to Syria with a false identity as a businessman from Argentina. His mission was to infiltrate the centers of power in Damascus. According to Israeli officials, he provided valuable intelligence before he was caught in 1965 and executed.

Last week, a video that recorded what appears to be the execution of Israeli spy Eli Cohen in Damascus was uploaded on a Syrian Facebook page.

The short video purportedly shows Cohen just moments after his execution in May 1965.

The black-and-white one minute, 40 second video shows masses of Syrians crowded around the square in which Cohen was hung, looking at his body, which was later placed in a coffin, placed in a truck and driven away. His body was covered with a placard detailing the crimes he was charged with. The Facebook page containing the video is called "Syrian art treasures."

Cohen's widow, Nadja, said on Tuesday that she had never seen the video before.

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