Rafi Eitan, the leader of the Israeli spy team that captured Holocaust mastermind Adolph Eichmann in a daring operation 59 years ago, died on Saturday. He was 92.
A Tel Aviv hospital announced Eitan’s death, the Times of Israel reported.
“Rafi was one of the heroes of the State of Israel’s intelligence service in countless acts for Israel’s security,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “There was no match for his wisdom, wit and endless commitment to the people of Israel and our country.”
Eichman escaped Europe after World War II and was living in Argentina under an assumed name when Israeli agents got wind of his whereabouts.
Eitan’s Mossad team flew in and snatched Eichmann off the street on May 11, 1960, throwing him into a car and speeding away.
In the vehicle, Eitan confirmed Eichmann’s identity by ripping off the captured man’s sleeve to check for a scar on his left arm, and pulling up his shirt to feel for a scar on his stomach, Fox News’ Leland Vittert wrote in 2011.
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“The moment I have Eichmann, on my knees I am, saying to myself the song of the Jewish partisans which says at the end, ‘We are here and we shall return,’” Eitan told Vittert.
Eventually, the man admitted he was Eichmann.
With more derring-do, Eitan and his fellow commandoes spirited Eichmann out of Argentina and brought him back to Israel where he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
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At a reunion for those involved in Eichmann’s capture and trial some years ago, Eitan recalled Eichmann’s capture with a twinkle in his eye.
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“I was 51 years younger (then),” he said. “But I am able and ready to do the same thing again.”
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