Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan sharply criticized on Wednesday the deal Israel made with Hamas to release 1,027 terrorists in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv, Dagan said, “The price we paid in this deal is problematic. There are quite a few risks in this deal.”
While Dagan said he was happy to see Shalit return home to his family, he said that the celebrations around his return had been excessive.
“I’m glad he came home,” he said. “There is not one person in this room who did not shed a tear when he saw Shalit embrace his parents, but the ceremony and the celebration, and the fact that the Prime Minister received him as a hero seems a little excessive to me.”
“I was not thrilled by the fact that the Prime Minister personally came to greet Shalit,” Dagan admitted. “It seems a little problematic to present Shalit as a hero."
Dagan was not referring to how the IDF soldier withstood captivity and how bravely he spoke during his interview in Egypt, but to what Israel did to release him.
Dagan also admitted that while the price Israel paid for Shalit was a heavy one, it had no choice because Israeli intelligence had failed in locating him.
“I am aware of the fact that a soldier should be brought home and that the country should do everything it can to get him back,” he said. “Unfortunately, in this case, the intelligence community failed. We could not come up with an alternative and therefore we had no choice but sign a deal under these conditions.”
After he left office and could speak freely, Dagan was quick to accuse the Netanyahu government of being irresponsible when it comes to Iran.
He publicly warned against attacking Iran, saying that an aerial attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities would be a “foolish idea, the stupidest thing I have ever heard.” This criticism cost him his diplomatic passport.
While Dagan refused to speak again on the Iranian issue, which has picked up steam and is being discussed extensively in the media over the past few days, he addressed criticism of the open discussion by MK Benny Begin and comments made by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who had said Dagan should be placed on trial for security offenses because of his public criticism of the government.
“The people who placed the Iranian problem in the headlines are the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense,” Dagan said. “They said everything is open and that they are seriously considering a military option, and ever since everyone’s been talking about it. If you want to put me on trial, go ahead.”