Army Radio to relocate to Jerusalem within 3 months
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Army Radio to relocate to Jerusalem within 3 months

Large military complex to be built in capital, including new headquarters for embattled station, Defense Ministry says

Illustrative image of radio broadcasters at the Army Radio headquarters in Jaffa, on March 27, 2014. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90)
Illustrative image of radio broadcasters at the Army Radio headquarters in Jaffa, on March 27, 2014. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90)

Army Radio, one of Israel’s main news radio stations, will be relocated to Jerusalem and will begin broadcasting from the capital within three months, the Defense Ministry announced on Sunday.

The move follows much squabbling over whether to relocate the military radio station and whether to make it part of the Defense Ministry rather than the IDF.

In a statement, the ministry said that Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had decided to transfer the station’s studios from its longtime building in Jaffa to a new military compound being constructed near the main entrance to Jerusalem.

It said the new Army Radio headquarters will be located in the capital’s “Beit HaChayal” (hostel for lone soldiers), which is to be rebuilt into a new 2,500-square-meter defense complex that will include a new army recruiting station.

The statement said the decision came after extensive preparatory work involving the Jerusalem Municipality and the IDF, including the station’s employees.

The new studio will serve both Army Radio — known in Hebrew as Galei Tzahal — and its sister music station, Galgalatz.

While the new complex is set to be opened in three years, the Defense Ministry said an existing Army Radio studio in Jerusalem will be upgraded and will begin broadcasting news in three months.

A computer simulation released on June 3, 2018, of the new defense complex being constructed near the entrance to Jerusalem, set to open in 2021. (Defense Ministry)

“When I was sworn in as defense minister, I decided that Army Radio, as Israel’s leading public broadcasting station, must broadcast from our capital Jerusalem,” Liberman said, according to the statement.

“Today, I am glad to say that train is one its way to the station,” he added. “We will continue to strengthen Jerusalem in every way.”

Army Radio’s commander, Shimon Elkabetz, praised the move and said: “The natural place for public broadcasting is in the capital of Israel.”

Army Radio has been on the chopping block for years as the army has looked to streamline itself.

“The military position is against closing it, but it doesn’t need to be within the IDF. The IDF does not need to have any public media outlets. Where it goes is for the government to decide,” an IDF official told The Times of Israel in November 2015.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Katzrin, May 11, 2018. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Last year, Liberman announced that the Galei Tzahal and Galgalatz stations, would cease being subordinate to the IDF and become instead a unit of the Defense Ministry. But the next month Liberman walked back the plan following a discussion with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

The attempt to move the radio station to the Defense Ministry was met with immediate resistance, notably from the Organization of IDF Workers, which promised to fight the unit’s transfer as the decision had been made without consultation.

On Sunday, the Defense Ministry said the Organization of IDF Workers had been involved in the new plan.

Army Radio began its broadcasts in 1950, taking over for the pre-state Haganah’s broadcasts.

It has served as a breeding ground for some of the country’s most famed journalists, including Ilana Dayan, Yonit Levy and Nitzan Horowitz.

Given its dual role as a news broadcaster and a military unit, the radio station has regularly been criticized by lawmakers for appearing to take sides on political and cultural issues.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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