Mossad operation recovers Eli Cohen’s watch in Syria

July 9, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Following a recent secret operation, Israel’s Mossad has returned to Israel the wristwatch of the late Mossad fighter Eli Cohen. 

Eli Cohen wearing the watch in Syria

In the annual memorial ceremony for Eli Cohen, which was held several weeks ago, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen returned to the Cohen family the wristwatch that Eli Cohen used in Syria. The watch is currently on display at the Mossad headquarters as a memorial to the legendary fighter; this Rosh Hashanah it will be transferred to the custody of the family.

After Eli Cohen’s execution on 18 May 1965, the wristwatch was held by an enemy state. Upon the watch’s return to Israel, special research and intelligence operations were carried out which culminated in the unequivocal determination that this was indeed Eli Cohen’s watch.

The watch

Eli Cohen is remembered for his espionage work in 1961–1965 in Syria, where he developed close relationships with the political and military hierarchy and became the Chief Adviser to the Minister of Defence.

Syrian counter-intelligence authorities eventually uncovered the spy conspiracy, captured and convicted Cohen under pre-war martial law, sentencing him to death in 1965. The intelligence he gathered before his arrest is said to have been an important factor in Israel’s success in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I commend the fighters of the Mossad for the determined and courageous operation, the sole objective of which was to return to Israel a memento from a great fighter who greatly contributed to the security of the state.”

Mossad Director Yossi Cohen added: “We remember Eli Cohen and do not forget. His heritage, of dedication, determination, courage and love of the homeland, is our heritage. We remember and have maintained a close connection over the years with his family, Nadia and the children.

This year, at the conclusion of an operational effort, we succeeded in locating and bringing to Israel the wristwatch that Eli Cohen wore in Syria until the day he was captured. The watch was part of Eli Cohen’s operational image and part of his fabricated Arab identity.”

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