by Tim Korso
Former head of Israeli intelligence Yossi Cohen was unusually public for a person in his position, giving a long interview to an Israeli broadcaster and revealing some of the details of his work right after resigning in June 2021.
Israeli police have opened a probe into the actions of former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Channel 13 and Haaretz reported. The preliminary investigation reportedly concerns a number of instances of Cohen’s alleged misconduct, such as receiving a $20,000 gift from Australian businessman James Packer, purportedly spilling secret information in a conversation with a flight attendant, and allegedly getting involved in a conflict between two Israeli businessmen.
In the past, Cohen has admitted to receiving a gift from Packer, which was for the Mossad chief’s daughter’s wedding. The ex-spy chief said he had consulted with Mossad’s legal adviser before accepting it and added that he was ready to return it if necessary. Channel 13 was the first to break the story in July about Cohen confiding secrets with a flight attendant he had had close personal contact with over the years. However, the former spy chief never confirmed the information contained in the media report.
Nor did he admit to being involved in a row between businessmen Ram Ungar and Michael Levi, who argued about the priority rights to distribute Kia cars. The conflict and Cohen’s alleged role in it was reported by The Marker news website, which claimed in a September 2019 investigation that the ex-head of Mossad had received a 1.1-million shekel ($341,654) gift from Ungar in the form of a donation to a synagogue near Cohen’s home.
The reported probe into Cohen’s alleged misconduct is preliminary, but depending on its results a full-fledged investigation into the ex-Mossad chief’s actions could be opened, the media reported. Channel 13 said Cohen himself is not expected to be questioned at this stage of the probe.
Cohen had been serving in the renowned Israeli spy agency since he was 22 years old and was appointed its chief in January 2016 by then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He was unusually public for a man in his position throughout his five years in office and even after his resignation in June 2021. Upon leaving his post, he gave an extensive interview to an Israeli broadcaster, shedding light on some of Mossad’s missions and aspirations, namely hinting at the spy agency’s role in the explosion at the Iranian Natanz nuclear plant in 2021 and the killing of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was alleged to be in charge of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme.