Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday announced he had appointed veteran Israeli journalist Danny Zaken as interim commander for Army Radio, despite plans to shutter or privatize the station.
Zaken, 58, who worked in the past at the station, is the diplomatic and defense reporter for the Globes financial daily. Previously, he served in a number of positions as a correspondent, editor, and presenter at the now-defunct Kol Yisrael public radio.
Gallant said Zaken would serve as commander of the station for a period of six months.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said an advisory panel would be formed in the coming weeks to “recommend the outline of the station’s activities, including its location on the national communications map and defining the characteristics of the position of the station commander.”
The ministry said members of the media and public representatives would form the panel.
Zaken is replacing journalist Galit Altstein, who took over as interim commander of the station in August 2021.
For several years, the Israel Defense Forces has sought to remove Army Radio from the purview of the military and the Defense Ministry. In January 2021, then-defense minister Benny Gantz announced a plan to separate Army Radio from the IDF, a move that had long been expected, but was repeatedly delayed so as to avoid shuttering the station for good.
The Attorney General’s Office said Gantz and the IDF lacked the authority to shutter Army Radio on their own, and that instead a Knesset bill would be the best method for approving such a move.
Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi last month said Army Radio was superfluous and that he aims to shutter it along with the Kan public broadcaster.
The military’s operating and funding of a radio station with journalists responsible for investigating the IDF itself, as well as politicians, has long been considered anachronistic, expensive, and an ethical minefield.
The station’s position as a media outlet has therefore always been an uneasy one, functioning simultaneously, and sometimes discordantly, as an independent news organization that seeks to critique the government as well as an arm of the Israeli military dedicated to covering the troops and furthering the narrative of the military as an area of national consensus.
Army Radio — one of the most listened-to news stations in the country — is staffed by a mix of young soldiers and seasoned journalists.