The widow of an Israeli spy who was hanged in Damascus three decades ago has appealed to Syrian President Hafez Assad to return her husband’s remains.
Nadia Cohen made the appeal at a news conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday, exactly 30 years after her husband, Eli, was hanged in Damascus.
“To stop the pain, I am ready to even go to Damascus” if that will result in the release of her husband’s remains, Cohen told Israel Radio.
In 1960, Egyptian-born Eli Cohen was recruited by the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency. He was dispatched to Argentina, where he posed as an expatriate Syrian businessman, and later moved to Damascus.
There, he developed contacts with Syrian political and military officials, passing information to Israel over the course of three years.
Some military historians believe that some of the data Cohen passed on to Mossad were crucial to Israel’s capture of the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six- Day War.
Cohen was caught by Syrian authorities and publicly hanged May 18, 1965.
Since then, the Syrians have rejected efforts to have the body returned.
“Once, Syrian leader Assad was asked for the body, and his answer was, `What body?’” Nadia Cohen told Israel Radio.
Meanwhile, Likud Knesset member David Mena is heading a public committee trying to get Syria to return the body.
He told Israel Radio that Syria should provide a sign of its commitment to peace by returning Cohen’s remains.