Israel Police and the Communications Ministry cut off the broadcasts of the Kol Hashalom radio station yesterday, claiming that they are pirate broadcasts. Kol Hashalom's operators claim that their offices, which are located in the Palestinian Authority, are not subject to Israeli law but Palestinian law, and therefore the Communications Ministry does not have the authority to shut it down.
Kol Hashalom has been broadcasting for the past seven years from East Jerusalem, using broadcasting equipment in Ramallah and an operating license from the Palestinian Communications Ministry. The station was established by Israeli peace activists working together with Palestinian peace activists.
The station is intended to replace the legendary Kol Hashalom radio station operated by Abie Nathan, but a slightly different Hebrew spelling was chosen to differentiate between the two. The original station's spelling translates to "The Voice of Peace" in English, while the new station's spelling translates to "The Whole Peace."
According to the station's operators, for all its broadcast history they were never asked to stop broadcasting or to acquire an Israeli license. Their first communication of the kind was received on November 4, asking them to stop broadcasting, claiming that their operations are illegal. The station denied the charges and requested time to formulate a reply.
Station manager and former Meretz MK Mossi Raz was called into a police station for interrogation regarding the matter on Thursday. While Raz was questioned under caution, he was asked to give orders to end broadcasts, or else he would be remanded by a judge and the police would raid the station's offices.
Raz made clear to his interrogators that he did not intend to broadcast illegally and gave instructions by telephone to end broadcasts until further instructions. The station managers plan to turn to the courts in the coming days to overturn the Communications Ministry decision. Raz is certain that the decision to close down the station is part of a general attack on left-wing organizations. The station provided a platform for left-wing groups that are now under attack by a new law that would curb their overseas funding.
"Of course there is an attack here that is not only on us. If someone came to the conclusion that this isn't legal, then after seven years there are different ways to go about it," Raz said.
The Communications Ministry responded: "The ministry carried out wireless supervisory activities in cooperation with Israel Police against a pirate radio station, just as it carries them out against all other illegal stations."
Likud MK Danny Danon recently turned to the attorney general, demanding that he shut down the station, claiming that it is broadcasting incitement. Last night, he announced, "Shutting down the station was carrying out justice. The contents [broadcast by] the station were unacceptable and the fact that they were a pirate broadcast made it possible for the Israel Police to close down the station."
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