Ex-Mossad chief Dagan laid to rest with military honors
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Ex-Mossad chief Dagan laid to rest with military honors

Spy agency holds private ceremony for former head before funeral; Dagan remembered as 'symbol of transformation from Shoah to rebirth'

The coffin of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan is lowered into the ground at the military cemetery in Rosh Pina, northern Israel, March 20, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
The coffin of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan is lowered into the ground at the military cemetery in Rosh Pina, northern Israel, March 20, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Former head of the Mossad Meir Dagan was laid to rest on Sunday afternoon in a military ceremony attended by government ministers and senior IDF commanders, who praised the one-time general and spymaster for his work to keep the country safe.

Among the hundreds who took part in the funeral in the northern town of Rosh Pina were President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and IDF commander Gadi Eisenkot, as well as former president Shimon Peres, former IDF commander Gabi Ashkenazi, and the former head of the Mossad Tamir Pardo, who succeeded Dagan.

During the morning, the secretive Mossad spy service held a private ceremony for Dagan to enable agents unable to attend the funeral to pay their respects behind closed doors for the man who led the agency for eight years.

At the request of the family, media remained outside the cemetery during the funeral.

Senior officers carry the coffin of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, as Israeli political leaders look on, at his funeral in Rosh Pina, on March 20, 2016. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)
Senior officers carry the coffin of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, as Israeli political leaders look on, at his funeral in Rosh Pina, on March 20, 2016. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Dagan was given a full military funeral. His coffin was carried by six senior IDF officers and an honor guard fired a volley of shots over his grave.

Dagan passed away on Thursday at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer.

He was appointed head of the Mossad in 2002 and led the agency for eight years before retiring in 2011.

During his tenure, the Mossad reportedly carried out a number of operations abroad, including the assassinations of top Hamas and Hezbollah operatives in Dubai and Damascus respectively, according to foreign media reports.

Meir Dagan, center, in Lebanon shortly after Israel invaded in June 1982. (Courtesy: Bamahane/IDF archive)
Meir Dagan, center, in Lebanon shortly after Israel invaded in June 1982. (Courtesy: Bamahane/IDF archive)

A retired military general, Dagan served for 32 years as an IDF officer, reaching the rank of major general. He is credited with leading some of the IDF’s most daring missions, and served in the Six Day War, Yom Kippur War and First Lebanon War.

After retiring, he was a strident critic of Netanyahu’s policies toward Iran and the Palestinians, but the prime minister spoke only of the work Dagan did toward securing the country.

“He said the fight against terror will continue for another hundred years and just as we beat it in the past we will continue and we will beat it in the future,” Netanyahu said. “As a creative and experienced man of missions he contributed to the strengthening and security of Israel.”

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, May 2011. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
File: Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, May 2011. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Netanyahu also spoke about the effect the Holocaust had on Dagan, who was born as his parents fled Nazi-occupied Poland. “Meir remembered at the crucial moment that no one came to save the Jews, that we must remember that, and not be dependent on the kindness of others.”

Rivlin called Dagan “a symbol of the transformation from the Holocaust to the rebirth [of Israel as a nation state].”

As the head of the Mossad you were given the mission of preventing our enemies from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. You fought in that mission like a tiger,” he said.

Peres described Dagan as “a born leader.

“Meir never gave up. Not to a drawn sword, not to painful truths, and not the campaign for peace,” he said. “Not for nothing did warriors follow him into battle in both revealed and hidden places.”

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