Elie Cohen is probably Israel’s greatest spy, and he has many other great spies to be compared to. It all started in the 1960’s when Israel realized that Syria is not just a dangerous country on it’s northeastern border. It was a country that was unstable and seemed like there could be a rebellion that would topple it’s leadership. Israel decided to move and put some of it’s people in place in order to perhaps provide some info that would help Israel’ security. The revolution indeed took place and Elie Cohen was already close to the new leaders that took charge.
Sure enough, Elie Cohen proved very quickly to be an invaluable spy that ably befriended some of the key members in Syria. Disguised as a wealthy South American businessman, Elie Cohen mastered accents and norms in Syria that allowed him to penetrate into the higher echelons of power in Syria. He became so close with the Defense Minister that he found himself taking security trips to see Syria’s border with Israel in order to investigate potential attacks on Israel.
One story that many in Israel have heard when they travel to the Golan is that Elie Cohen recommended that Syrian soldiers have more shade due to the hot summers in the North. Eucalyptus trees that grow rapidly were planted around the Syrian emplacements in order to shade the Syrian soldiers. In the end, during Israel’s defensive war against Syria in 1967, Israel’s Air Force bombed the eucalyptus trees enabling Israel’s brave infantry to scale the heights of the Golan and liberate the area from Syrian dominance. The trees are there to this very day with remnants of Syrian artillery.
Ultimately, Cohen was caught, quickly court martialed, sentenced to death, and hanged in Syria prior to the Six Day War. At the time, it was not known to Syria to what extent their security had been compromised. But the damage was done and the effects of his transmissions would save the lives of countless Israelis when Israel dominated the battles in the North due to their secret weapon, Elie Cohen.