AP Photo/LEB
Eli Cohen

The Egyptian-born Cohen was recruited into the Mossad and sent to live among Syrian expatriates in Buenos Aires before moving to Damascus.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

Mossad director David Barnea revealed on Monday the last telegram sent from Syria by Israel’s legendary spy Eli Cohen.

The telegram, dated Feb. 19, 1965 said, “Meeting of the General Staff last night at 5:00 with [then-Syrian President] Amin Al-Hafez and high officers.”

Barnea revealed the last telegram at the dedication of the Eli Cohen Museum in Herzliya.

“The reason for Eli Cohen’s capture has always been controversial. Did he transmit too much? Did he act contrary to the directives? Did headquarters demand that he transmit too intensively? The issue has been subject to dispute for many years,” Barnea said.

“I will honor this holy place and reveal, for the first time, following in-depth research that was carried out recently, that Eli Cohen was not captured due to the quantity of his transmissions or pressure from headquarters to transmit too frequently. Eli Cohen was captured because his transmissions were simply intercepted and triangulated by the enemy. This is now an intelligence fact.”

Government Press Office

Government Press Office

The Egyptian-born Cohen was recruited into the Mossad and sent to live among Syrian expatriates in Buenos Aires to establish his cover as a businessman named Kamel Amin Thaabet before moving to Damascus.

Cohen quickly became a confidante of many high-ranking Syrian officials and businessmen and he was reportedly being considered for an appointment as deputy defense minister. His information about Syrian positions defending the Golan Heights is said to have played a key part in Israel’s capture of the territory during the Six-Day War of 1967.

In 1965, on what was supposed to be his last time in Damascus, the Syrians, with Soviet assistance, detected Cohen’s radio transmissions and arrested him. He was publicly hanged in Damascus in 1965.

Israel and Cohen’s widow, Nadia, have been fighting for the return of Eli’s body from Syria ever since.

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