A detail of the commemorative stamp honoring Eli Cohen issued by the State of Israel in 2000, on the 34th anniversary of his hanging. Photo: Reuters.

Nadia Cohen, widow of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen, called on Wednesday on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to return her husband’s body to Israel, saying, “I ask for compassion.”

Perhaps Israel’s most famous spy, Eli Cohen was an Egyptian-born Jew who was sent to Syria by the Mossad to infiltrate the top levels of Syrian political and military circles. Throughout the early 1960s, Cohen succeeded brilliantly and the intelligence he provided was believed to have been an enormous asset to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

After an extensive counter-intelligence operation, Cohen was captured by Syrian authorities and sentenced to death. He was executed in 1965 and his burial place remains unknown. His family has been trying to retrieve his body ever since.

According to Israel’s Channel Two, in a public address delivered at an international conference in Israel, Nadia Cohen spoke directly to Assad, saying, “Let Eli go free, let his bones go free. I am 83 years old, see us differently, forgive.”

“I thank those who brought me here to stand and speak to Bashar Assad’s heart,” she added.

Speaking of her previous attempts to retrieve her husband’s body, Cohen revealed she had personally contacted the Syrian dictator.

“I had a correspondence with Bashar 18 years ago, and we wrote to him, we photographed my children, my grandchildren, in order to arouse mercy and soften his heart about returning the body. I was happy when he replied that this would take place ‘in time.’ These two words were comforting to me,” she said.

Eli Cohen will be portrayed by British actor Sasha Baron Cohen in an upcoming Netflix series.

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