The Offshore Stations of Israel

For fifteen years the Voice of Peace, was the only offshore radio station operating from " somewhere in the Mediterranean " otherwise known as, off the coast of Israel.
In October 1988 she was joined by Arutz Sheva broadcasting from the MV Hatzvi.
Five years later, in October 1993, following the Israeli/Arab peace accord, the Voice of Peace closed down and her ship "Peace" was scuttled and sunk by station owner Abie Nathan, who felt that now his peace mission had been realised, there was no longer any need for the radio station.

Arutz Sheva became the only offshore radio station operating in the Mediterranean, indeed the world - as Europe's sole remaining offshore station - Radio Caroline, had closed in 1990.

During the 1990's the Israeli radio scene became somewhat confused, with numerous pirate stations setting themselves up on land, and some claiming to be operating from ships offshore. Some did indeed operate from small boats, while several owned small boats which they claimed to broadcast from, although actually operating from land.
Those which have certainly broadcast offshore are Radio 1, Radio Hof, Radio Gal, Radio Dan and Galei Hayam Hatichon, as well as Arutz Sheva.
One station that claimed to be operating offshore was Arutz 2000 (Channel 2000), although it was actually believed to operate from land. The station has one aim in mind - to return people to religion. It plays popular religious songs and is popular with the religious community, mainly Sephardic Jews. They operate on 104mhz FM.

The FM band.

To give some background, at the end of 1995, the Tel Aviv FM band looked like this:

Radio 1.

This station started operating on Monday 2lst January 1991, from the MV Polaris, anchored off the coast of Haifa. The station, broadcasting on 105.3mhz, became very popular in Haifa and the surrounding areas. Even the Mayor of Haifa had his own show on the station.

Radio 1 closed itself down at the end of 1994, in preparation for the tenders for local commercial radio in Israel, which were published in December 1994. The law said that any station that was broadcasting after the publication of tenders would not be allowed to compete. Radio 1 won the tender to broadcast to the Haifa area. On the 18th October 1995, local commercial radio started in Israel.

Radio Hof.

Started in September 1993, this station broadcast from the MV Hof anchored off the Tel Aviv coast on 102mhz, FM. It was a station mainly for teenagers. Radio Hof was closed down in April 1994, because it was discovered the ship was just a front and that they were really broadcasting from land. The station returned on extremely low power, although it is not thought they were using a ship. Hof in Hebrew means beach.

Radio Gal.

Broadcasts on 101.8 from off the Tel Aviv coast. Radio Gal - which translates as Radio Wave, started off as a land based station, with a very similar format to Radio Hof. When Radio Hof dissappeared, Radio Gal started sounding remarkably like Radio Hof. It seemed like the Radio Hof crew had taken over Radio Gal. The jingles and format were exactly the same.
Sometime in September 1995 the station went offshore and is broadcasting to this day on high power to the Tel Aviv and central area. Initially it had a second FM frequency of 101.1mhz. In early February 1996 this closed, and the station has been broadcasting on 105.4mhz at weekends. This is one of Arutz Sheva's frequencies.

Galel Hoyam Hatichon.

Translating as Waves of the Mediteranean Sea, this station started broadcasting offshore on Friday 27 October 1995. They broadcast for a total of around three weeks from the MV Kajun on 95.1 FM, before it was closed down by the police and Ministry of Communication officials, who claimed they were broadcasting from inside Israeli territorial waters. The ship was boarded and broadcasting equipment confiscated. The station immediately went to court, trying to get their equipment returned. This was probably academic as on 23 November, the ship ran aground on the Tel Aviv coast and was so badly damaged that it was declared unseaworthy.
The station was a very successfullandbased operation, broadcasting "Middle-Eastern" music, from the Tel Aviv area, 24 hours a day. They were constantly raided by the authorities. After being raided three times in two weeks, they closed down for four months, preparing to go to sea.

Radio Dan.

A bit of a mystery. They broadcast on 88.5 FM, there were no deejays, just continuous music with the occasional jingle. When the radioship Kajun ran aground, it was noted that there were two names painted on the side, Galei Hayam Hatichon and Radio Dan. When the former station was raided, Radio Dan also stopped broadcasting.

Arutz Sheva.

The longest running of the current Israeli offshore stations, Arutz Sheva broadcasts on 71l and 1143khz AM and 98.7 and 105.2mhz FM. They are on air 24 hours a day, except from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.
As well as Hebrew programming, the station also has a Russian programme. The English programme that Arutz Sheva ran has stopped. The presenter was an extreme right winger, belonging to Meir Kahana's Kach party - outlawed in Israel. His views were even too right wing for Arutz 7.
The station now has a home page on the Internet. The world wide web page gives some background on the station and includes two colour pictures of the ship and one of the studio. Arutz Sheva also have a daily news service that can be found on Internet. Search for Arutz 7 or look up:

http://www.jerl.co.il/media/arutz7/index.html

The station added a third FM outlet, on 97.1mhz, during January 1996. This is a daytime service for Russian immigrants, on Radio Lite's old frequency.

Radio Lite.

A land based pirate station that have broadcast from South Tel Aviv was raided for the fourth time on New Years day 1996. All their equipment was confiscated and the four owners briefly arrested. Radio Lite broadcast on 97.1 from a block of flats, they started out as an MOR station, but later changed to an "alternative music" station playing long album tracks - disco, rock and mediteranean.

Speaking of the raid on the Israeli Army Radio - Galei Zahal 7pm news on 1st January 1996, one of the stations owners claimed that they have a ship on its way from England and within a few weeks will be back on the air from off the coast of israel.

Geim B'avir.

Translating as "Proud people of the air", this is the supposed name of a homosexual/lesbian station that plans to broadcast from a boat on Arutz 7's FM frequency at the times that station is not on the air - Friday to Saturday evening, the Sabbath. Arutz 7 are now putting out a tone on their FM outlet when they are not broadcasting to prevent anyone else using the frequency.

Arutz 2000.

Anitz - Channel 2000 has been operating as a land-based pirate station, in Tel Aviv, for some time. It is an ultra-religious station, and a Sephardic zealot outlet linked to the Shas political party. This group have five seats in the Knesset.
For some time there have been stories circulating of a former lightship being fitted out as a radio ship, in a dock at Portsmouth in the UK. Around the start of 1996, these stories had evolved into wild rumours of a new radio ship about to broadcast to Europe. The ship in Portsmouth was a former Trinity House lightship, Iightvessel no.3. Built in 1946, by Philips and Son Ltd, Dartmouth, Devon, the 41.83 metre (137') long x 7.62(25') wide THLV 3 has a loaded displacement of 523.8 tons. It was berthed, along with other redundant lightships at the scrapyard of Harry Pounds, just outside Portsmouth. The proposed radioship "Nannell" was also moored in the same place a few years back.
THLV3 was purchased for 30,000 from Pounds, by an Israeli group. In April 1995, Paul Rusling's company, Worldwide Broadcast Consultants, were hired to advise on the set up of a new ship based radio station to be based in Israel. WBC were involved during the summer, but pulled out when things appeared not to be quite kosher.

King David.

Work on THLV3 slowed toward the end of 1995 due to lack of funds, but picked up in the new year. The ship was painted white and renamed King David. The ship was reportedly registered in Panama and owned by a Mauritius based company named variously as Blackbeard or Bluebeard. The Israeli group also purchased a former Swansea harbour inshore tug "Tamar" to tow their ship to Israel.
By the middle of January 1996, most of the internal work was complete and lattice masts had been stacked on the rear deck, ready for erecting. Reports of what happened next are a little confused, with the date of Monday 15, Wednesday 17 and Friday 19 January reported as the day the DTI raided the ship. This visit was allegedly as a result of instigation by the Israeli embassy in London. The King David had moved from her berth at Pounds yard, at the end ofthe previous week, to a nearby mooring by the Isle of Wight ferry terminal.
The DTI removed most of the aerial sections and some cable, but left other equipment. Shortly after the official visit, the King David left Portsmouth bound for the safety of international waters. It was thought that the King David called at Cyprus to collect new aerial sections.

In Israel.

On Thursday 25 January 1996, Arutz 2000 started playing jingles, including the mention of a ship and started talking about a ship "that is on the way". The next day, the most popular Hebrew daily paper Yedoit Abronot had a front page article about a "pirate ship on the way to Israel"

On Saturday 27, Arutz 2000 were making emergency broadcasts during the evening, appealing for money, as their ship had got into trouble "somewhere at sea" and was in the process of being rescued and salvaged. The station said they needed money immediately.

Yediot Ahronot for Tuesday 30 January 1996 revealed in an article headlined "Zealot Pirates reach Gibralter" and quoting shipping agent Tony Pounds saying there had been a problem between the King David and the tug towing her, the 'Tamar'. The problem was the steel cable linking the two ships.
According to the paper, the ships pulled into Lisbon,where the cable was repaired. The ships last known position was the Straits of Gibralter. An Arutz 2000 person by the name of Sharon, he didn't want to give his full name, said the ship had yet to pass the Straits, and according to weather conditions should reach Israel within a month. The paper went into some of the background and quoted some "official Israeli sources" had asked the DTI to board the ship. They said the zealots got into a panic and ordered the Lithuanean crew to pull out to sea as soon as possible, and to keep radio silence, so the whereabouts of the ship would be kept secret. The Zealots were not arrested because they had Israeli passports. The report also mentioned that the agents representing Arutz 2000 in Israel, and mediating between them and Tony Pounds are called Shechterman and the Sea Ltd, based in Haifa.

"Israel Offshore Radio" with special thanks to Mike Brand.

Do you remember those 'Golden' days of Offshore radio? If you wish to add anything to these pages then please E-Mail me.

These pages are Limited copywrite and were designed and edited by bebridel@guernsey.net .