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Report: Russia Returns Rescued Relic, Revealing Remains of Renowned Reconnaissance Man
Eli Cohen, left, and two other unidentified co-defendants, during their trial in Damascus in 1965. (AFP via Getty Images)

Report: Russia Returns Rescued Relic, Revealing Remains of Renowned Reconnaissance Man

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday denied reports that personal effects belonging to the late Israeli spy Eli Cohen recently were handed by Syria’s government to Israel via Russian mediators. “The efforts to return the remains of Cohen are ongoing, but this information is false, and the president of Russia has nothing to do with it,” Netanyahu’s office said, after i24 News reported the startling nugget. In the report, a top Syrian official said that the artifact passed to Israel was part of Cohen’s personal belongings, possibly a document verifying his identity. A Russian source also was quoted as confirming the reports of Russian excavation efforts in recent weeks in eastern Syria, in search of the whereabouts of Cohen’s remains. Cohen’s brother on Wednesday accused Netanyahu of “toying” with the family. “People use this for unholy purposes,” he said, referring to the prime minister’s apparent attempts to exploit the late hero’s return for political gains, two weeks before Israel’s elections. In 2019, the body of an Israeli soldier was brought home from Syria after nearly 40 years, five days before that year’s first elections, and a young Israeli citizen, jailed in Russia for marijuana possession, was released to much fanfare weeks before the 2020 poll. Cohen was arrested and executed in Damascus in 1965 for spying for the Jewish state.

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