Esther Pollard, wife of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, dies at 68

She was hospitalized with COVID over weekend after her condition deteriorated; ‘I did not imagine I would lose Esther,’ husband says

Esther Pollard, wife of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, speaks to press outside her home in Jerusalem on July 29, 2015. (Flash90)
Esther Pollard, wife of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, speaks to press outside her home in Jerusalem on July 29, 2015. (Flash90)

Esther Pollard, the wife of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, died on Monday from coronavirus-related complications at the age of 68.

Pollard, who battled breast cancer for years, was hospitalized at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center over the weekend after she was infected with the virus and her condition deteriorated.

The funeral was scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at the capital’s Har Hamenuhot cemetery.

“I did not imagine in my worst nightmares that I would lose Esther. After decades of fighting for my release, I felt so helpless that I could not help her in her struggle for life,” Jonathan Pollard told Israeli media.

Esther and Jonathan were married while the latter was serving a multi-decade prison sentence in the United States.

Pollard, as an intelligence analyst in the US Navy’s counterterrorism center, passed thousands of crucial US documents to Israel, straining relations between the two close allies.

He was arrested in 1985, convicted of espionage and sentenced to life in prison two years later, despite pleading guilty in a deal his attorneys expected would result in a more lenient sentence.

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets released US spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther at Ben Gurion Airport, December 30, 2020 (Courtesy)

He was eventually released in 2015, but was kept in the United States by parole rules and not allowed to travel to Israel.

For several years, he remained subject to a curfew, had to wear a wrist monitor, and was prohibited from working for any company that lacked US government monitoring software on its computer systems. In addition, he was restricted from traveling abroad.

The couple moved to Israel a year ago after the parole restrictions that prevented him from leaving New York were removed.

Jonathan and Esther Pollard after his release from prison, November 20, 2015. (Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent his condolences.

“I was sorry to hear of the passing of Esther Pollard, a woman whose devotion and love for Jonathan Pollard became a symbol of strength, determination and faith. May she rest in peace,” he said.

Jonathan Pollard and wife Esther, photographed during a coffee break when they met with the Conference of the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on January 24, 2016. (Courtesy Justice4JP)

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu said, “My wife Sara and I mourn with Jonathan Pollard over the passing of his late wife Esther. Esther worked tirelessly for many years for Jonathan’s release. I remember our meetings and conversations over the years and I promised to bring Jonathan home. Even over many years of her illness Esther showed immense devotion to her husband, did not give up, did not stop dreaming. We all embrace you today, Jonathan, in your great grief.”

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