Former Israel spy chief in Belarus for liver transplant

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Former Mossad spy chief Meir Dagan underwent a liver transplant in Belarus last week and is in intensive care, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, speaking at a press conference in Minsk Tuesday, announced “that a former Mossad chief had been operated on in the country ten days ago and was currently in recovery,” the Jerusalem Post wrote, adding that while Lukashenko didn’t identify the patient by name, Israeli media named him as Dagan.

“Dagan’s illness, cancer, was known for a couple of months to a small group of confidants and colleagues and me, but it was decided for reasons of not invading his privacy not to report it,” veteran Israeli intelligence journalist Yossi Melman told Al-Monitor by email Tuesday. “Tonight the Belarus President Alexander Lukaschenko revealed it in a press conference trying to gain pr for himself and his pariah regime.”

Two months ago, Dagan went to Sloane Kettering hospital in New York for medical checks hoping to find a compatible organ, but in vain, Melman said. “He returned to Israel and his health was deteriorating.”

Dagan subsequently resigned from his position as director and consultant to various Israeli and foreign companies and flew two weeks ago to Minsk with his family for the surgery, said Melman, co-author with Dan Raviv of a recent book on Israeli intelligence, Spies Against Armageddon.

Since stepping down as Israel’s spy chief in 2011, Dagan has become a key voice in Israel and the United States expressing opposition to unilateral Israeli military action on Iran.

“An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it,” Dagan told CBS’s 60 Minutes in a March 2012 interview.

“I heard very carefully what President Obama said. And he said openly that the military option is on the table, and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state,” Dagan continued. “If I prefer that somebody will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it.”

(Photo: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) hugs Meir Dagan, the outgoing director of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, after thanking him at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 2, 2011. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.)