I was born in Iraq into an educated family. We lived in a very beautiful area. We were eight children. My oldest brother is author Sami Michael. He was forced to leave Iraq because he led an underground leftist communist group in Iraq that was active against the regime. He dedicated his life to teaching children, who did not receive an education. He distributed fine British cloth that his father imported for him to poor children. So we had to smuggle him out of Iraq because the Iraqi secret police were after him and sentenced him to death in absentia. He fled to Iran and from there he came to Israel in 1949. We were among the first of the Iraqi Jews who wished to make Aliya to re-join our family in 1951. From a very well-off economic upbringing, having a gardener and a nanny, we left everything and we came to a ma’abara – an absorption camp for new immigrants. We lived there for six years but the joy in our hearts was great because it was our state, it was our people and material matters did not make a difference. My father became very ill and we had to help to provide for the family and provide for the siblings that were born afterwards. That is how we grew up. We all lived in Kibbutzim, we received a taste of what a Kibbutz is, we all were drafted into the Israeli defence forces and served the country, including myself. My grandchildren also served in the intelligence core of the IDF.


Eli immigrated to Israel in 1957, after having assisted the Mossad whilst residing in Egypt. He encouraged and supported the Jewish Aliyah to Israel, and would raise funds in order to purchase from the local Arabs ammunition and guns stolen from the British, who ruled Egypt at that time, and smuggled then via ship to the State of Israel. I knew Eli because he was living opposite our house. I saw a modest young man. He did not care about money or wealth. I felt he was something exceptional. He was a small talker but a great doer. It was love at first sight - we could not lift ourselves up from the chairs; we had an immediate connection. We got married in a synagogue. Eli worked in the Mashbir department store, as an accountant, but it was a very boring job for him. I felt it was not where he wanted to be. In the morning he worked there and in the evening he would correct the mistakes of his managers, for extra income to provide for his family. It was transparent that he was very clever. He spoke many languages, very alert and he was a diplomat. He knew when to speak and when to be silent. I was happy. He was my support. He was older than me by eleven years, so he was a husband and also half a father. He was very modest and very courteous.


After the wedding I got pregnant with my first daughter Sophie. Today, she is a clinical psychologist and has a daughter who is about to finish medical school in Israel. I was pregnant with her and Eli told me that he was fired from the Mashbir department store. It was a very difficult time to find work and receive managerial positions, despite being well educated, due to being new immigrants from Arabic countries. Eli told me, “Don’t worry, I’m an educated man, I’ll find a new job.” After two weeks, he told me, “I found a job, a very interesting job,” although he did not tell me the truth. Naturally, things at home changed. I was still pregnant with Sophie. He starting bringing maps, upon which he had to locate buildings and mosques. He would ask me to help him because his eyes would get tired. I did not think that I was cooperating with him and that later on he would disappear. Four months after I delivered Sophie, he began telling me that he is involved in buying spare parts for weapons, and the industry that contributes to the security of the state, although it was not completely accurate. He was preparing himself for a far more serious mission for the safety of the State of Israel. At the time I still did not guess that my husband would be one of the greatest spies in Syria. What he told me was that the operation he was involved in was to try to create a scenario whereby should the Arab states buy specific types of weapons, Israeli scientists would be able to cause them to malfunction.


In his first departure, he left me at the age of 24, with a four-month old baby. He used to write to me letters as if he was in Europe and everything was ordinary. When he came back when Sophie was over a year old, he was different. He gained about four kilos, grew a Turkish moustache, indicating a wealthy status, and a ring. That was not Eli. It was completely different but he was happy, as if G‑d gave him a right to be happy. He came back with an unusual self-confidence and when he came home, he was not at home all the time. At least fifty percent of the time he was at the Mossad, studying and being trained. His training involved many things, like changing his dialect from the Egyptian dialect to the Syrian dialect. It also involved a stranger - a Mossad member - who entered into our house, sat in our home three or four times a week, and was an expert on Islamic prayers. Then Eli told me that it would be better off that I don’t ask questions or talk to that man, or approach him, but rather keep my distance, and so whenever he would come I would go for walks with Sophie in the neighbourhood.


His training lasted for about an additional two months, included learning Morse code, maps, Islamic issues, and of course many other issues that I was not aware of and I am still not aware of until today. At that time, Eli started telling me that he would make me a ‘queen’ (once this is all over). At the end of the story, I had no ‘crown’ and no husband. After Eli entered Syria, he completely changed. Of course, he was a very good spy. He took his job very seriously but he could not share with me and confide with me what he was doing and I did not feel comfortable. I was worried about his safety. In the Mossad they found that Eli was a genius. He managed to position himself amongst the Syrian elite, various officers, military personnel, businessman and he was a regular guest at the president’s house.


The children could not react to Eli’s absence. In the short periods he came home he wanted to absorb all the love from his children, he even smelt their scent to stay with him, and he wanted to give all the love possible, like a father to his children. But Sophie was born without seeing his father. Irit does not know her father. When Eli left home for the last time, Shai was only three weeks old. He did not see them crawl, or breaking their first teeth or learning how to walk. Usually the first word children say is Abba. With my children, their first word was Abba without actually knowing who their father was. In the meantime, Eli began talking in Syrian dialect with his mother and I immediately realised that it’s not the Egyptian dialect, and I started getting envelopes, when he was at home from the Mossad, and I was told not to open them those. But I did open them. When I opened the envelope, I read what was in them and then I realised that my husband is not too far away from home, in one of our close neighbours.


Eli came, for his last time, to the birth of my only son, Shai, and life was very difficult for me because I stopped talking. I used to mark crosses on the calendar waiting for his return so he could participate in the tasks of the day-to-day family upbringing. I could not sleep. I distanced myself from my friends. When I was sitting with our friends, all of them young couples, and they were chatting about how it is now easy to bring up a family, and about their lives as partners. They kept on asking me what’s going on, why are you alone, where’s your husband, and I didn’t have an answer for them, so I would distance myself from my family. The solitude and hard life started to take their tolls upon me both emotionally and physically. I felt like I was not alive. When Eli came, I was in an advance stage of pregnancy with Shai, I did not want to deliver. I kept the pregnancy up until the tenth month because I knew that once I give birth Eli would take his suitcase and leave. He realised the situation and was very afraid. Then he told me that this was his last trip, because five years have lapsed, “and then I will be with you, Nadia.” He asked me whether I would like for him to ask the Mossad to divide his last trip to two segments and I said no, just go on with it, finish the whole half year so we can be a family again. Then one day he came back from the Mossad, completely different. He was not the same Eli. He did not discuss what we talked in the same morning about him coming back. He was silent. He used to evade me so I would not see his face. I saw the ghost of a man who had a phenomenal success, who was happy. But when the Mossad did not have such an agent capable doing what Eli did, the Mossad dreamt that Eli would stay there with the view that if there was going to be a revolution there, as there was frequently, Eli would be a part of that and would become a minister.


The minute Eli left for the last time we knew that he was not coming back because he was being sent by force. After he got into Syria for the last time, the Syrians were surveilling him, someone told about him. During his last month at home, I cannot elaborate how we felt but we felt very, very bad, and very sad, we felt that we were being torn apart and being separated and we saw death before our eyes. The same person who was staying at our house and teaching Eli aspects of Islam came to tell me that Eli was caught but that something from within me told me a week earlier that he was caught. I felt it, I knew it. I asked that man how deep did Eli go into the Syrian administration. He told me very deep and I understood that there was no chance. There were two Arab Syrians who were caught, who were serving the Americans, and these agents were in contact with German agents and agents from other countries, they were caught, tortured and they mentioned Eli. When Eli was in his last vacation in Israel, he knew that they were caught and that is why he knew that if he is going back, he knew what is going to happen to him, the torture and that it was clear to him that he would not survive. I am proud of him. He was a genius. His actions were phenomenal, starting from the information he brought about the Golan Heights and the attempts of the Syrians to divert the waters of the Jordan to the Lake of the Galilee. The head of the Mossad said there was no one like Eli before him and will be no other after him. I am proud for what he did but I never felt that I had a husband. The children never felt they had a father. I am very upset at the Mossad director at the time for sending him the last time but his successors did not make the same mistake. They understood what family life means and what it means when a family is destroyed and they have the required sensitivity. Even though Eli is considered a hero, I did not speak as I do today for thirty years. He is commemorated almost everywhere in Israel, by streets, squares and synagogues named after him, including a trail running through ex-Syrian military bases in the Golan Heights - we are how establishing a museum, I remained however very inverted. It took me many years until I opened up and able to share my story.