Ministerial Panel Established to Combat Pirate Radio Broadcasts

Illegal radio broadcasts interfere with Ben Gurion airport communications; panel headed by Shaul Mofaz.

The cabinet decided on Sunday to establish a ministerial panel, headed by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, to combat illegal radio broadcasts.

The panel will also include Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Communications Minister Ariel Attias and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. The Prime Minister's Office will also assist the panel to battle the pirate radio phenomenon.

On Wednesday, Director General of the Israel Airports Authority Gabi Ofir issued an order to halt all flights at Ben Gurion International Airport after pirate radio broadcasts repeatedly disrupted communications between the air traffic control tower and airplane staff. The order was lifted Wednesday evening, but the interference persisted.

Hundreds of pirate radio stations are currently being operated in Israel, despite the fact that hundreds are shut down by authorities every year. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss described the phenomenon as a "blow to the nation."

A chief inspector from the Israel Police was annexed to the Communications Ministry a year ago in order to expand the enforcement of radio broadcasting laws.

The Israel Airports Authority workers' union decided last week to go on strike next week if the matter of airport radio interference was not addressed and resolved by the government. They have been complaining of disruptions for a long time and felt not enough was being done to combat the life endangering phenomenon.

Head of the national pilots' union, Boaz Hativa, warned of possible catastrophes if the pirate radio threat is not eliminated. Hativa demanded the involvement of cabinet ministers in efforts to put an end to illegal broadcasts.