Police: Huge Drop Reported in Pirate Radio Interference at B-G Airport

Authorities fielded 50 complaints in 2007 over radio interference at Ben-Gurion, compared with just 2 this year.

Authorities are reporting a precipitous drop in the number of complaints filed by communications operators at Ben-Gurion Airport over interference caused by pirate radio stations.

According to data submitted Wednesday to Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, the statistics reflect the number of complaints (2) lodged over the course of the first six months of this year. The interference has been known to pose a risk to flight safety. Last year at this time, police fielded 50 such complaints.

The report also cites an increase in the number of pirate stations who base their operations in the Palestinian Authority. The ministry is due to hold special consultations on the matter, which are to focus on ways to deal with the problem. "Pirate radio stations are aerial terrorism, and that is how we have to treat them," Mofaz said.

In 2008, authorities have closed down 29 pirate radio stations that scrambled aerial communications at Ben-Gurion. The move is a significant drop compared to 2007, when police shut down 103 stations. Police say 29 criminal investigations were launched against station operators and that dozens of broadcasters and operators were arrested.

In July 2007, Mofaz chaired an inter-ministerial committee tasked with combating the phenomenon of unauthorized radio stations. The panel formulated a plan of action designed to locate the stations and bring their operators and employees to trial.

"The favorable results in the fight against pirate radio stations obligate all of us to continue with the effort to do away with this phenomenon," Mofaz said. "We mustn't rest on our laurels and we must not let up in our battle with those who violate the law."