Elie Cohn was hanged from a hook in Martyrs’ Square, Damascus, and his body, draped in a white robe, was left hanging for six hours in public view. The execution was carried live, from beginning to end, by Syrian television, and in Israel a pale woman tensely followed every scene, heard every imprecation hurled by the announcer and the frenzied crowd. The woman was Nadia Cohn, the wife of Israel’s greatest spy – a man who had penetrated the highest echelons of the Syrian government so successfully that he was, at the time of his capture, being seriously considered for a minister’s post.

This is the true story of Elie Cohn, his selection and training, his first missions and connections in Argentina, and eventually his cunning and resourceful actions in Damascus, where he became the intimate of high-ranking army officers and of President El-Hafez himself. There he gained access to some of Syria’s most important military secrets, and what he reported became invaluable to Israel’s security: it helped Israel to win one of the most brilliant victories in the history of warfare in 1967. Today Elie Cohn is a martyr and a legend. His life and brutal death are a symbol of the courageous men behind the scenes in the tense, often vicious, and infinitely subtle and strained relations between Israel and the Arab world.