Among the politicians and statesmen who visited the burial site of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Monday were the families of two Israeli spies who have not returned home: Jonathan Pollard, who has been imprisoned in the United States since 1985, and Eli Cohen, who was killed in Syria in 1965. Cohen's body has not yet been returned to Israeli soil.
Both emphasized to Channel 2 News how much the former Prime Minister meant to the men and their families.
"It was important to Jonathan that I attended," Esther Pollard stated. "Jonathan hoped he'd be able to come home to say goodbye to Sharon before he died. He would call home - he has only a very few minutes to make calls from prison - and he was using his time to get an update on Sharon's condition."
"He told me that Sharon was the only one fighting for him against the directives of then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and the entire Cabinet, not to give the US documents with his [Jonathan Pollard's] fingerprints on them," Pollard explained.
"To this day, Jonathan feels a very great debt to Sharon, and really wanted to say goodbye," continued Esther Pollard. While Jonathan did not have the opportunity to see Sharon before his death, "the US can release my husband, in Sharon's memory," she said.
Effie Lahav, one of the heads of the Free Pollard movement, was also present at the funeral. "We are here thanks to the important value that Sharon taught us: not to leave anyone behind in the field," Lahav stated. "Jonathan is a prisoner left behind for almost 29 years, and we are here to remind leaders of the value Sharon left us: return Pollard, and the sooner the better."
Nadia Cohen, the widow of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, also felt the need to honor the former Prime Minister. "I see in Sharon the way to true Zionism, his whole self was [dedicated to] the people and the state," Cohen explained.
According to Cohen, Sharon was the only official who could bring back the remains of her late husband to Israel. Cohen was killed in Syria in 1965, and his gravesite has never been revealed.
"When he [Sharon] was elected, I saw someone who would listen to me and return Eli to me," she said . "We met two years before he fell ill. I held a meeting with him and my daughter; I remember that he said to me with a smile, 'Nadia , what can I do for you?'"
"I think if he was still alive, he would have done much for our country," Cohen continued. "Israel's national interests were always on his mind, and I was very impressed after that meeting. If he was healthy, maybe he could have brought about peace."