JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Mossad director Meir Dagan, who called the idea of bombing Iranian nuclear sites “stupid,” has died.
Dagan, who headed Israel’s foreign intelligence and special operations organization for nearly a decade until 2011, died Thursday in a Tel Aviv hospital following a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
He served as a national security adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who appointed him director-general of Mossad in August 2002. He made his remarks on Iran at a conference after leaving the Mossad post.
Dagan served 32 years as an Israel Defense Forces officer, retiring in 1995 with the rank of major general. He fought in the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War and First Lebanon War, and is said to have led some of the IDF’s most daring missions.
He received a liver transplant in Belarus in 2012, at the age of 67, after being refused one in Israel. Patients are placed on the waiting list for transplants in Israel only up to 65.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Dagan was a “daring fighter and commander who greatly contributed to the security of the state.”
Netanyahu added: “The photograph in which his grandfather is being humiliated by Nazi soldiers shortly before he was murdered in the Holocaust was always before his eyes. Meir was determined to ensure that the Jewish people would never be helpless and defenseless again, and to this end he dedicated his life to building up the strength of the State of Israel.”
President Reuven Rivlin called Dagan “one of the bravest fighters the Jewish people has known.”
“He was imaginative and had profound faith,” Rivlin said in a statement. “His dedication to the State of Israel was absolute — he saw his own well-being linked to that of the state and did everything possible to ensure the State of Israel’s survival for generations to come.”