Mossad Director Meir Dagan’s request to extend his term by another year has been denied and he will step down in three months’ time, Channel 2 reported today. The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the report.
Major General (res.) Dagan, 65, was appointed head of the Israeli intelligence agency in 2002 by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He replaced Efraim Halevy.
His term was extended twice by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and in June 2009 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to keep Dagan on as Mossad chief for another year.
According to unconfirmed reports in the foreign press, during Dagan’s term Mossad assassinated a number of terrorists in Lebanon and Syria. One of the more notable operations was the killing of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus.
Mossad was also linked to January 19 assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. A number of Mossad representatives were expelled from Britain after it was made known that the hit squad used European and Australian passports. A number of countries expelled Israeli diplomats.
Criticism of Dagan’s handling of the affair grew amid the diplomatic crisis that followed the assassination.
Dagan was born in Russia and moved to Israel at the age of five. He began his military service in the Paratroopers Brigade. When Sharon headed the IDF Southern Command in the early 1970s, he assigned Dagan to command over the undercover “Rimon” unit, which operated against terrorists in Gaza during the 1970s.
In February 2001, Dagan coordinated Sharon’s election day staff.
During his service, Dagan also commanded Israeli troops in southern Lebanon and helped to establish the South Lebanese Army (SLA).
During the first intifada, which erupted in the late 1980s, Dagan served as a special assistant to the IDF chief of staff. In 1993, he was promoted to major general and joined the general staff as deputy operations chief. He left the army in 1995 and joined the Shin Bet security services a year later as deputy director to Ami Ayalon.
In 1997, during his first term as PM, Netanyahu named Dagan to head the Unit for the War against Terror, and he continued to serve under Netanyahu’s successor, Ehud Barak. Dagan resigned, however, after Barak formed a new security-diplomatic team in his office, headed by retired Maj. Gen. Danny Yatom.