In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, President Reuven Rivlin asked the former to use his influence in Syria to bring back the legendary spy’s remains to Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin asked Russian President Vladimir Putin, during their meeting in Moscow last month, to take advantage of his military presence in Syria in order to bring the remains of the legendary spy Eli Cohen to Israel for burial.

Israel hopes that the fact that the Russians are the main lifeline of the Assad regime, it would be easy for them – if they so wished – to persuade the Syrian president to end the historic affair.

Before the meeting, Rivlin received a briefing from the defense establishment, during which the widow Nadia Cohen’s request to bring up the matter with Putin was brought to his attention. The Russian president listened and promised to look into the matter.

Eli Cohen's trial in Syria (Photo: AFP)
Eli Cohen’s trial in Syria (Photo: AFP)


Eli Cohen spied in Syria from 1961until he was caught and executed in 1965.

Over the years, including during the Syrian civil war, the State of Israel has done everything possible to bring back his remains. In 2007, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was very close to Assad, to help in the matter. Erdogan also handed Assad a letter from Nadia Cohen, and from reports that Jerusalem received, the Syrian president answered orally that “now is not the time”.

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin meets with Russian president Vladimir Putin (Photo: AFP)
Israeli president Reuven Rivlin meets with Russian president Vladimir Putin (Photo: AFP)


Israel asked the American government several times to intervene. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also sent his associate Ronald Lauder to Assad in late 2010 in order to persuade him to permit the return of Cohen’s remains.

Nadia Cohen told Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth, “We greatly respect President Rivlin and we all hope that maybe this time it will work. I hope that appealing to Putin will succeed. In any case, we have nothing to lose. Each person or any factor that can affect the situation will make me very happy. This will remove some of the sorrow and pain that we experience every day. I think that bringing Eli to Israel is just like a live meeting.”

Nadia Cohen,"We don't believe the Syrians" (Photo: Assaf Magal)
Nadia Cohen,”We don’t believe the Syrians” (Photo: Assaf Magal)


According to Cohen, today there are many options in Syria now to retrieve Eli Cohen’s remains, but unfortunately nobody has been able to influence the Syrians.

“Mossad chief Meir Dagan was active in this regard,” she added. “Dagan tacted with great fervor during his tenure so that Eli Cohen could be returned Israel for burial. He made lots of efforts.”

Cohen said the Syrians have argued in the past that they do not know the exact place where Cohen is buried, since in that same place a road was built and a new neighborhood was constructed, “but we do not believe them. We are convinced that they know exactly where Eli is buried.”

As reported by Ynetnews