JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Rafi Eitan, a former Israeli minister and veteran spy who led the operation to capture fugitive Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann, died on Saturday at the age of 92.
“We have lost a brave fighter whose contribution to Israel’s security will be taught for generations to come,” President Reuven Rivlin said.
Eitan died after being hospitalized in Tel Aviv, YNET news website and other Israeli media reported.
Eitan played an influential role in the early years of Israel’s intelligence agencies.
In 1960, he was in charge of the Mossad operation that led to the capture of Eichmann, an architect of the Nazi Holocaust, who was living in Argentina under an assumed identity. Eichmann was taken to Israel where he stood trial for crimes against humanity, was found guilty and hanged.
Eitan was also involved in the planning and implementation of the attack on the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
He then headed Israel’s Bureau of Scientific Relations, which was involved in the scandal surrounding Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. naval intelligence analyst arrested in 1985 and sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment for spying for Israel.
Israel has said Pollard was recruited in a rogue operation by the since-disbanded bureau. Eitan assumed responsibility for and resigned over the affair, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Eitan was elected to parliament in 2006 for three years and served as pensioners minister.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Angus MacSwan)