It was announced this morning that the former-head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Meir Dagan has died aged 71. His huge contribution to Israel’s security was immediately hailed by leaders from across the country’s political spectrum.
A Mossad statement announced Dagan’s passing with “deep grief.” He is thought to have succumbed to cancer and had suffered health problems for several years, undergoing a liver transplant in 2012. Dagan led Mossad from 2002 until 2011, having his term extended twice, once by Ehud Olmert and also by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During his time at the helm, Mossad is thought to have carried out a number of daring and important operations.
Dagan became Mossad chief following a 32-year military career, during which he reached the rank of Major General, leading crucial operations during three major wars. During the 1970s, Dagan was tasked with forming the Rimon anti-terror commando unit, credited with reducing attacks at the time. Following his retirement from the military in 1995, Dagan served as counter-terrorism adviser to Netanyahu’s first government, and as a National Security Adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Dagan remained a high-profile and somewhat controversial figure following his retirement from public life. He vocally opposed Netanyahu’s position on potentially attacking Iran and also criticised the government’s failure to find a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.
Nonetheless, Netanyahu was one of many leaders to praise Dagan this morning, calling him a “great warrior,” under whose command Mossad “undertook bold operations that broke ground and barriers.” President Reuven Rivlin said that Dagan’s dedication to Israel was “absolute” and that “He did everything in his power to ensure that the state would continue to exist for generations.” Meanwhile, opposition leader and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog said Dagan was “an Israeli hero who bravely fought our enemies,” but also “fought for peace with the same determination.”
Dagan, who was born in the Soviet Union in 1945, is survived by his wife and three children.