Former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit has died at the age of 84, the spy agency announces.
Shavit died while on a private vacation in Italy, the announcement says. No cause of death is given.
Shavit was the seventh director of the vaunted intelligence agency and ran it from 1989 to 1996.
Current chief David Barnea lauds Shavit as “a pillar of the world of operations, intelligence, security and strategy of the state of Israel.”
After joining the agency in 1964, Shavit rose through the ranks from an officer in Tzomet, the Mossad’s human intelligence-gathering wing where he worked in Iran, to the head of the Caesarea special operations unit.
After a stint as deputy head of the organization, he became chief in 1989.
“During his tenure as head of the Mossad, Shavit worked to expand and strengthen the secret relations between the Mossad and organizations and countries in the regional and global arena, chief among them his contribution to the establishment of the peace agreement signed between Israel and Jordan,” the statement says.
In recent years, Shavit was a staunch critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.