By Zachary Solomon for Jewniverse
The name's Cohen, Eli Cohen.
Born to Jewish and Zionist parents in 1926, Israel defense was in Cohen's blood from the start.
After being spurned by the Mossad in the late 1950s, the Egyptian-born Cohen worked as a filing clerk at a Tel Aviv insurance office until Meir Amit, the Mossad's Director-General, found himself in need of a special agent to infiltrate the Syrian government. He found Cohen's name in a file of rejected candidates and judged him suitable for the task.
Operating under the identity of a Syrian businessman returning from Argentina, Cohen built relationships with high-level officials, politicians, and public figures, hosting parties where he would feign intoxication and listen carefully and absorbed the secrets shared.
Sending intelligence back home via radio and secret letters, Cohen once toured the Golan Heights, faking sympathy for the sunbaked Syrian soldiers and planting trees at each fortification. The Israeli military then used the trees as markers to destroy the Syrian strongholds during the Six-Day War.
Cohen was found out in 1965 and sentenced to death by a Syrian military tribunal. But his legacy as Israel's most famous and successful spy still stands.
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