JERUSALEM, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Chief of Israel's intelligence agency Mossad Meir Dagan's tenure will not be extended, reportedly in light of the international criticism aimed at Israel following the January assassination of top Hamas commander Mahmoud al- Mabhouh in Dubai.
Israeli TV Channel 2 News reported over the weekend that Dagan has asked that his term as head of the Israeli spy agency be extended by another year, a request denied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dagan, according to the report, is due to step down within three months after eight years on the job.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement the following day, refuting the report and saying that Dagan did not ask for an extension. "The prime minister decided last year to extend the head of Mossad's tenure by a year. Since then, no additional decision has been made," the statement read.
Sources in Israel's intelligence community denied claims that the prime minister's decision to retire Dagan was linked to al- Mabhouh's assassination, an operation allegedly carried out by teams of Mossad agents but never confirmed by Israeli authorities. An international outrage ensued evidence presented by Dubai Police that the assassins had used forged passports and fake identities in the operation.
"We have no idea what was published or not," a security official was quoted by the local daily Ma'ariv as saying. "What is clear is that when you carry out a lot of operations, statistics does step in."
Dagan, a retired Israel Defense Forces (IDF) general, was appointed Mossad chief in 2002 by the then-prime minister Ariel Sharon. Soon after, Dagan declared that the organization would renew its active role in the fight against global terrorism and focus heavily on derailing Iran's nuclear program.
In the eight years since, Mossad has been reportedly attributed with several operations, including the bombing of a Syrian nuclear facility, the assassination of Hezbollah's military chief Imad Mugniyeh in Damascus in 2008, the bombing of a truck convoy last year in Sudan that had supposedly carried arms intended for Hezbollah and Hamas, and the assassinations of several top figures in Iran's nuclear program.
It is yet unclear who will succeed Dagan as head of Mossad. The daily Ha'aretz reported on Sunday that finding the right person may prove to be a problem, since Dagan did not groom a successor and had forced three of the organization's top commanders to leave their posts during his tenure.
According to the Channel 2 report, Netanyahu is considering to appoint a successor from within the Mossad's rank. Candidates from outside the organization include current Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin and Yoav Galant, head of the IDF Southern Command.