The next time you are in Jerusalem or in almost any other city in Israel, you may walk down Eli Cohen Street. Anyone there will tell you about the heroic person after whom the street is named.
As a boy in Egypt, Eli Cohen was active in many Zionist organizations. When he was 33 years old he settled in Israel, where he soon began to train as a spy for the Israel Intelligence. In the 1960s he was sent to Syria where his knowledge of the Arabic language and customs helped him to disguise himself as a rich Syrian citizen. Little did his family in Israel, or his neighbors in Damascus, know that he was an Israel spy. He befriended senior government officials, soon learning many government secrets.
He began his own radio program on Syrian radio and became well-known throughout the entire nation. He was even taken on tours of the Syrian-Israel border and shown many Syrian strongholds. All of this information, which he radioed back to the Israel Intelligence Service, helped Israel greatly in defending herself against her enemies' plans. After several years of brilliant service, he was discovered by accident and sentenced to be hanged. Appeals for mercy from government and religious leaders the world over were in vain. In 1965 thousands of people viewed his public hanging on television. Those in Arab nations cheered, while those in Israel mourned the loss of a brave man who had certainly given his life on behalf of his country.
Reproduced with permission from Junior Encyclopedia Judaica for Youth (C), CDI Systems.