Eli Cohen's Mission

Eli's mission can be divided in two stages: the mission that he fulfilled in his youth, the goal of which was to bring new Olim to the land of Israel, and his later mission as an adult, which was in defense of the Israeli State. Eli Cohen was a fighter.

What capabilities are required of a Mossad fighter?
If we wish to understand Eli Cohen, we must learn about the capabilities required of a fighter in the service of the intelligence authorities.
Firstly, he must be a good actor - the fighter must create a situation in which he plays the central role.

Then, all in one breath, he must possess the qualities of daring, good sense, cunning and charisma; he must be capable of carrying others away with his ideas, holding them spellbound and putting them into action.

Additionally, he should be a good salesman, be able to handle intricate communication networks, be knowledgeable of a wide and comprehensive range of subjects, be fluent in a number of languages, have an outstanding memory, be highly adaptable to all kinds of situations, and be gifted with outstanding intelligence, reliability and loyalty.
This is Eli Cohen.


Eli Cohen in his Youth

Eli Cohen was born in Egypt to parents of Syrian extraction.

He was educated in the Jewish elementary school and in the French lycée, after which he spent two years studying electrical engineering. He was then expelled from Cairo together with other Jewish students in the wake of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.

Eli was active in the Zionist Youth Movement in Egypt and, as a counselor, taught Hebrew to Jewish youngsters and encouraged them to make Aliyah to Israel.

His name was connected by the Egyptian authorities with the "Unfortunate Affair” (an Israeli espionage group which was exposed and penalized) because the house that hosted the clandestine activities of the group was registered in his name.

Eli had no idea that his friends were using it for espionage purposes, but he was nevertheless arrested and interrogated by the authorities.

Eli was expelled from Egypt together with other Jews and made Aliyah to Israel in 1957, seven years after his family.Eli had command of several languages: Arabic, Hebrew, English and French and was therefore detailed to an IDF reserves unit which required a comprehensive knowledge of languages.
He subsequently learned Spanish in order to give a good impression to his cover story.
Eli wished to join the Mossad, but his involvement in Egypt with the "Unfortunate Affair” had exposed him to foreign elements and therefore made him unsuitable for fulfilling the role which he strived for.

Eli worked as an accountant for the "Mashbir Letzarchan" department store and was married to Nadia in 1959.

The Espionage Mission

In 1960, Eli was recruited to Intelligence Unit 188 after 3 years of suitability tests that included appropriate physical and mental-emotional fitness, level of intelligence and security reliability.

He commenced an intensive 8-month training period during which he received instruction regarding undercover activities and procedures, adoption of Arab identity, operation planning and assessment of prevailing conditions, security behavior in an enemy country, topography, ciphers, clandestine communication, coding and decoding, Morse, aerial photography and duplication of documents, preparation of secret hideouts for storing equipment, armaments and documents, handling of explosives and other terrorist means, memory tests for the purpose of identifying objects and weapons, etc.

Eli was sent to Argentine via Europe with a cover story largely based on his real life in Egypt.
He was registered in Argentine as having been born in Beirut to Lebanese parents who moved to Egypt when he was 3 months old - under the alias of Kamal Amin Thaabet.

To support his cover story, he learned Spanish and the history of Argentine.On his arrival in Argentine, he made a point of associating himself in all respects with the local Syro-Lebanese community.He set up an import-export business dealing in various commodities and soon presented himself as a successful businessman, with strong Syro-Lebanese ties and an ardent yearning to return to the cradle of his birth.

Eli's initial activities in Syria took place in 1962, when for six months he spun friendly connections with an extensive list of acquaintances who served him as sources of intelligence information. Several of these held high economic and social standing in the community, while others were high-ranking army officers.

Other personages served as links to agents he was anxious to meet with.
They assisted him in getting to know Damascus.He settled into an apartment opposite the Syrian army Headquarters and relayed his first message in February of 1962.
During those 6 months, Eli telegraphed 50 communications regarding administration, technical operations, personal security and more.On his return to Israel, he advised the intelligence services about his stay in Syria concerning four topics: his operative activity, Syria's policy towards Israel, a report on Syrian politics, and a detailed report of the persons with whom he had dealings.

Cohen continued like this, in the course of several rounds, to amass critical data for the benefit of the security of the State of Israel.
Between rounds he would return to his family in Israel, to his wife and daughters, with whom his relationship was close, warm and loving.

A Fighter's Mission Comes to an End

Eli Cohen was arrested by the Syrian authorities in 1965 as a result of surveillance and follow up of his transmissions.
He was tried and sentenced to death.
The intelligence data that he, as a fighter, provided, was so highly significant that it has been stressed more than once that his activities helped to save the country.

His work is chiefly identified with his intervention that helped to foil a plan to divert the Hatzbany river (thereby rescuing the State of Israel from a loss of one its principal sources of water), and the exposure of Syrian army bases dispersed over the Golan Heights (thereby enabling a mortal blow to the military power of the Syrian attacking force during the Six Day War).

Eli Cohen z"l has become a legendary figure in modern Israeli history. His named is engraved for eternity in the national memory - as a beloved son who sacrificed his life for the common good.
Eli fought as a silent soldier and died as a national hero.
His image symbolizes for us and for generations to come Jewish bravery, love of the Jewish people and the love of the Jewish heritage.
May his memory be for a blessing

We bring a quote from Yitzchak Rabin, the late Israeli Premier

Eli Cohen's efforts and the information he provided led to the great victory of the Six Day War

The late Levi Eshkol, Israeli Premier