Photo Credit: Channel 2 screen grab
Eli Cohen, archive photo

The government of Russia has issued a statement formally denying reports in Israeli media that a Russian delegation recently removed the body of Mossad agent Eli Cohen from Syria.

Read: Unconfirmed Report in Syria Claims Renowned Israeli Spy Eli Cohen’s Body Moved from Damascus

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Syrian opposition news outlets reported Sunday evening (April 15) said a Russian delegation left Syrian territory with an Israeli coffin containing the body of Mossad intelligence agent Eli Cohen.

“We resolutely refute the allegations of a number of Israeli media that Russian representatives allegedly removed the remains of Syrian Mossad agent Eli Cohen, who was executed in Damascus in 1965, from Syria,” said the statement issued by the Russian Embassy in Israel. “The motives for the dissemination of such blatant misinformation, as well as anyone who would believe it, are incomprehensible.

“We call on Israeli partners, including journalists, to be extremely careful, professional and honest when addressing such sensitive issues. Responsibility for possible negative consequences of such provocation lies on those who produce or carry it out.”

An Egyptian-born Jew, Eliyahu Ben-Shaul Cohen, husband to Nadia and father of Sophie, Irit and Shai, worked undercover in both Egypt and Syria, but was best known for his undercover work in the latter country, carried out between 1961 and 1965 until he was arrested and convicted of espionage.

He was executed through hanging by the Syrian government in Damascus in 1965. Israel has spent decades trying to recover his body.

Read: Mossad Retrieves Wristwatch of Famed Israeli Spy Eli Cohen in Mysterious Operation

The agent’s watch was returned to the country last year through a highly complex – and secret – Mossad operation. It was subsequently presented to Cohen’s wife Nadia, who was left a widow with a four small children.

The Israeli government has not commented on the reports.

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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 Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.