Top Haaretz spy correspondent Yossi Melman appreciates departing Mossad chief Meir Dagan. During his eight-year tenure, the Israeli foreign intelligence agency’s covert operations grew in both number and success, according to Melman. He reports that Mossad activities have helped slow Iran’s nuclear program, including by killing three important physicists (you can believe Dagan’s 2015 estimate); it killed several terrorists (even the diplomatic damage from the successful Dubai assassination, Melman reports, has been salved); and, most importantly, it prevented Syria from going nuclear.
For seven years no one—not Syrian ally Iran, not the CIA, neither French nor Israeli intelligence—had a clue about the North Korean-built reactor until April 2007, when Mossad agents discovered that Syria was within months of becoming a nuclear power. Dagan wasted little time. In September of that year, eight Israeli Air Force fighter planes and bombers destroyed the reactor. Dagan’s people—who never took responsibility for the attack—then gave photos of the destroyed nuclear site to the CIA, which presented the intelligence to Congress, cannily creating the impression that the CIA was somehow involved in the operation.