HALF a century after Israeli master-spy Eli Cohen was executed in Syria, Israel’s intelligence service has retrieved his wristwatch and returned it to his family.
A “special Mossad operation” brought back the watch Damascus.
At the annual memorial ceremony for the hero spy, Mossad director Yossi Cohen gave Eli’s family the watch he used in Syria.
However, the Mossad will hang on to it and place it on display at its headquarters as a memorial to the “legendary fighter”. At Rosh Hashana, the watch will be transferred to the custody of the family.
After Eli Cohen’s execution in May 1965 — he had been arrested in January of that year — the watch remained in “an enemy state”, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
“Research and intelligence operations were carried out, which culminated in the unequivocal determination that this was indeed Eli Cohen’s watch,” it added.
Sophie Ben Dor, Eli’s daughter, said that the watch had been put on sale online and that a Mossad agent travelled to Syria to buy it there.
“It’s the only thing we have of my father from after he was caught,” she said. “It’s very moving.”
Levi Eshkol, the late Israeli prime minister, credited the information provided by Cohen with saving countless Israeli lives and “having a great deal to do” with Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War.