Former Israeli Minister and legendary spy Rafi Eitan, who led the capture of Adolf Eichman, passed away on Saturday while hospitalized at Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv at the age of 92. His death was announced by the hospital.
Eitan joined the Mossad in the 1950s, and headed the agency when he commanded the 1960 operation to capture Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichman in Argentina and bring him to Israel for trial. He once again became a subject of media attention when he became known for being the handler of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
At the age of 79, in 2006, Eitan was elected to the Knesset as head of the new “Gil” Pensioners Party and served as minister for senior citizen affairs for the next three years.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences and those of his wife Sara in a statement on Saturday night in response to Eitan’s passing.
“My wife Sara and I mourn alongside the people of Israel the passing of Rafi Eitan,” he said. “Rafi was among the heroes of the intelligence services of the State of Israel on countless missions on behalf of the security of Israel. He was a personal and close family friend. His wisdom, wit and commitment to the people of Israel and our state were without peer.”
Mossad Director Yossi Cohen and Mossad personnel expressed deep sorrow over Eitain’s passing.
“The late Rafi Eitan was a pillar of the intelligence community in general, and the Mossad in particular. We will always esteem his contribution to the security of the State of Israel from his days as a young fighter in the Palmach,” Cohen said. “His work and his actions will be etched in gold letters in the annals of the state.
“Rafi was a first-class fighter and commander; he was original and courageous and led countless daring and complex Mossad missions and actions, including the capture of Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann. The great majority of his operations cannot be publicized but they contributed greatly to the security of the State of Israel.
“The foundations that Rafi laid in the first years of the state are a significant layer in the activities of the Mossad even today. The people of Israel owe him much. May his memory be blessed.”
Baruch Dayan Emet.