antenna
An antenna in Ofakim. The ministry seeks to keep radiation levels in check. The poster reads: 'Who shall live and who shall die.' Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz
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After years of seeking to disperse cellular antennae to lower radiation levels, the Environmental Protection Ministry now supports a plan to let the new companies on the market use antennae used by their competitors.

There are currently about 8,000 cellular antennae in Israel, and if the two new companies - Mirs and Xfone 018 - were not allowed to use them, 2,000 more would have to be built.

No official position has been put together, but the cell phone companies have said they will work for infrastructure unification under the guidelines they receive from the Environmental Protection Ministry.

If the unification plan is rejected, it could be hard to find 2,000 spots for new cellular antennae.

"Setting up new transmission centers has slowed down considerably," the cellular companies' forum said yesterday. "The reasons are objections by local authorities and a Supreme Court order banning access installations."

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash ), who chairs a joint committee on health and environment in the Knesset, backed the Environmental Protection Ministry's new position.

"I would ask you to take action to commit the existing cellular communications companies to allow the new companies to use the already existing infrastructure," he wrote to Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon. "This won't necessarily reduce the exposure of the Israeli public to radiation, but it might prevent the worsening of the situation."