Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Wristwatch belonging to Mossad intelligence agent Eli Cohen, z'l

The wristwatch of the late renowned Israeli spy Eli Cohen has been retrieved, and returned to Israel in a mysterious operation carried out by Israel’s international Mossad intelligence agency, for whom Cohen worked.


Eliyahu Ben-Shaul Cohen, husband to Nadia and father of Sophie, Irit and Shai, was best known for his undercover work in Syria, carried out between 1961 and 1965, until he was arrested and convicted of espionage. He was executed by the Damascus government on May 18, 1965. His watch was held by Syria.

The Mossad “spoke to us a couple of months ago when the watch was up for sale,” said his widow, who added that the time piece was purchased but she didn’t know where; she was simply pleased to have it. “I felt it was part of his body; his blood is on that watch.”

During the annual memorial service held to honor Cohen’s service to the nation, the watch was presented to the family by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen; it is currently on display at Mossad Headquarters and will be handed over to the family permanently after the upcoming Rosh Hashana holiday.

His daughter was also excited, telling an interviewer on Israeli radio the watch was “the first and only thing we have from Abba.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Mossad for the operation, “the sole purpose of which was to return to Israel the memory of a great fighter who contributed greatly to the security of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu’s office declined to disclose to reporters where the watch was obtained. His wife still holds out hope that one day, her husband’s body “will also be returned.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.