Israeli spy Eli Cohen's daughter asks UAE for help to return father's body

Cohen was executed in Syria in 1965 on espionage charges, and his body was not returned to Israel and his family.

Reproduction of an Israeli stamp being issued to honor Mossad intelligence agency spy Eli Cohen (photo credit: REUTERS)
Reproduction of an Israeli stamp being issued to honor Mossad intelligence agency spy Eli Cohen
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Sophie Ben-Dor, daughter of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, in an interview with the i24NEWS Arabic channel urged the United Arab Emirates and its ambassador to Israel to help retrieve her father's body from Syria, where he was executed in 1965 on espionage charges.

"I am asking the Emiratis, who occupy a greater place among our country and in the international arena, to help us mediate, and to ask and reach agreements with the Syrians to return my father's body," she said.

Previous requests to return Cohen's body to Israel

i24 added that Syria has refused to return Cohen's body to Israel, noting that his wife, Nadia, requested in November 1965 that his body be returned, but her request was denied.

The report also noted that Cohen's family asked the Russian government last year to help retrieve the body and cited Arab media as reporting in 2021 that Russia was searching for the remains but added that no progress had actually been made on the matter.

Nadia, widow of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, shows a photograph of herself with her late husband, during an interview with Reuters in Herzliya, Israel, October 6, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)Nadia, widow of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, shows a photograph of herself with her late husband, during an interview with Reuters in Herzliya, Israel, October 6, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

In the interview, Ben-Dor said she hoped to appeal to the UAE now that Russia has become increasingly isolated following its widely-criticized invasion of Ukraine.

"I think it's an excellent idea, I didn't think of it alone, but it seems to me that it's an unusual channel, it's also an Arab channel," she told i24. "And I think we will get clearer answers. And if there is a motivation, it has a chance to happen faster. There will be an official appeal from the family to the Emirati ambassador in Israel (Mohamed Mahmoud Al Khaja)."

The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this month that the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, had revealed in detail how Cohen was captured by Syrian authorities over five decades ago.

According to the report, Mossad director David Barnea declassified Cohen's final message to the agency before his capture and noted that the communication had been intercepted.

In the message, Cohen said that then-Syrian President Amin al-Hafiz had met with the military high command at 5 pm.

Barnea suggested that part of the reason for releasing the cable was to dispel criticism that the Mossad had pushed Cohen too hard, ultimately leading to his capture.

The report noted that some historians say the intelligence that Cohen provided was critical to Israel's victory during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Barnea vowed to continue trying to retrieve Cohen's body, the report added.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.