Tel Aviv - Meir Dagan, one of Israel's most prominent and outspoken former Mossad heads, died Thursday morning of cancer, the spy agency announced. He was aged 71.
Born in the Ukraine in 1945, Dagan emigrated to Israel with his family when he was five.
After a long military career, he led the Mossad intelligence agency between 2002 and 2011.
During that time, he oversaw assassinations of a number of leading members of Lebanon's radical Shiite Hezbollah movement and of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, among others in Dubai and Damascus.
After his retirement, he became an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, having accused the leader of bringing isolation to Israel.
He also spoke out against possible Israeli strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu nevertheless expressed his condolences in a message that said Israel had lost a "great fighter."