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Mossad Agents To 'Defend Minsk'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Meir Dagan haven't always seen eye to eye.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Meir Dagan haven't always seen eye to eye.
Almost a week after Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced that the former head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, was being treated at a hospital in Minsk, "The Sunday Times" reported on October 21 that Israel’s national intelligence agency has sent enough agents “not only to defend the hospital but the entire city.”

Dagan was diagnosed with cancer several months ago and came to Minsk for a liver transplant.

Due to fears that Dagan could be attacked, the report says, Israeli officials sent further reinforcements of security agents over the weekend.

“We’re very worried. Both Iran and Hizballah are well aware of Dagan’s location and we believe some of their operators might be on their way to Minsk,” "The Sunday Times" quotes a “well-placed Israeli source” as saying.

Dagan’s associates have rejected the claims. A friend of Dagan and former police commander, Uri Bar-Lev, told "The Jerusalem Post" last week that Dagan traveled to Belarus because of the donor and denied claims that Lukashenka’s disclosure had created a security issue.

RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports that during a press conference on October 22, Israel's ambassador to Belarus, Yosef Shagal, dismissed the claims that additional security agents had arrived in Minsk to protect Dagan, referring to them as "lies" and "provocations."

In a press conference on October 16, Lukashenka announced that Dagan had come to Minsk because doctors in the United States, Germany, and Sweden, among other countries, had refused to operate on Dagan becasue of his past as a spy.

Lukashenka was eager to tell reporters about his well known patient.
Lukashenka was eager to tell reporters about his well known patient.
Even though Dagan was operated on 11 days ago, due to complications from the procedure his doctors refused to give permission for his transfer to an Israeli military hospital. Ambassador Shagal told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that Dagan was operated on by a French surgeon, Daniel Azoulay, in cooperation with Belarusian doctors.

The former Mossad head is reportedly responsible for launching a campaign of assassinations across the Middle East, attacking scientists and officials linked to Iran’s nuclear program. "The Jerusalem Post" also refers to the February 2008 assassination of Hizballah operations officer Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, which took place while Dagan was head of Mossad.

Dagan hasn't had the best relationship with the Israeli government. In June 2011, he publicly criticized his government’s stance on Iran, prompting responses from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s associates and advisers, who accused Dagan of acting without “national responsibility," and committing “sabotage against democratic institutions of Israel.”

-- Deana Kjuka

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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