©   2014-2022 Offshore Radio Museum

Home Basement Ground Floor 1 Floor 2

Arutz Sheva - History (4)

National Union party leader Avigdor Lieberman said that the raid was "nothing more than political scheming, based on election campaign considerations and as revenge for Arutz Sheva's clear policy against a Palestinian state." His party colleagues also commented - Tzvi Hendel said that this is a case of "political persecution on the eve of elections," and demanded that Communications Minister Rivlin open an immediate investigation into how this occurred. Uri Ariel said that the raid was an attempt to "shut mouths." Benny Elon said that the authorities of the Supreme Court - which put a freeze on a duly passed Knesset law legalizing Arutz Sheva - must be curtailed "in order to prevent it from making a mockery of Israel's democracy."

Blame for the raid was passed between various agencies - the police said that the Communications Ministry ordered the raid as part of its efforts against unlicensed stations; the Communications Ministry, however, said that the raid came in response to a request from the head of the Elections Committee to ensure that unlicensed stations do not broadcast election propaganda.

Arutz Sheva issued this announcement following the raid:

"For 15 years, the State Prosecution and the police have waged a campaign to harm Arutz Sheva by "hitting us in our pockets." On two previous occasions, police have smashed and confiscated our state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment, under the pretext that the station's broadcasts are against Israeli law. No court has ever ruled that this is the case, but Arutz Sheva has had to pay top lawyers' fees in order to defend itself against these allegations.

Police raids like the one today on our broadcasting ship are aimed solely at portraying the station as illegal, thus bringing about an immediate decrease in advertising income. "The Prime Minister, Communications Minister, and Public Security (Police) Minister all denied prior knowledge of and involvement in today's attempt to silence Israel's only radio voice opposing the establishment of Palestinian state. How, then, did it happen? Raids of this sort happen under right-wing governments because extremist left elements control key government institutions, including the police, the State Prosecution, the courts, and the Israel Broadcasting Authority. They are largely behind the systematic attempts to financially cripple and harm the lone nationalist voice on Israel's airwaves.

We turn to our listeners and internet readers to fight this trend in whatever legitimate manner is available. Please speak out, write letters and faxes, and support the station in its continual struggle to survive these blows against our right to champion the Jewish Nation's right to the Land of Israel."


On 19th October 2003, a law, similar to the UK's 1967 Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Act was passed by the Israeli Cabinet. The law, made it illegal for companies to advertise on a ‘pirate’ radio station.

The following day,  20th October 2003, Jerusalem Magistrates Court convicted 10 Arutz Sheva directors and staff members of broadcasting without a licence. The station stopped its radio broadcasts at 5.00pm that day and issued the following message to its "precious and loyal listening public:"

"For some 15 years, Arutz Sheva has broadcast Torah lessons and love of the People and the Land, with the participation of the leaders of Israel. The broadcasts accompanied and aided in the development of Torah in Israel and settlement of the Land.

Following the decision of the Likud Government of yesterday to prevent advertising on non-licensed stations, and following today's court decision, the management of Arutz Sheva has decided to stop all broadcasts on the radio, beginning at 5.00pm this evening.

The broadcasts will continue as usual on the internet and by phone.

Peace upon all."

Charges were first brought against the station five years previously, after a police investigation - much of which was undercover - that began in 1995. Prosecuting attorney Shimon Dolan claimed that from 1995 to 1998, Arutz Sheva operated without the requisite permits from a ship that was primarily anchored inside Israel's territorial waters and also from a studio in Beit El from where its programmes were transmitted with the help of several relay stations. However, defence lawyer, Dan Sela, claimed that the station’s broadcasts all emanated exclusively from the ship, and only when it was in international waters.

The trial focused on two issues - whether the ship broadcast from Israeli or international waters, and whether there were also terrestrial broadcasts. During the trial, the prosecution called 54 witnesses, and the defence called 20, among them experts in locating the source of radio broadcasts, electronics and sonar.

In his verdict, the judge ruled that during the period in question, the ship was usually located within Israeli waters, no more than three or five nautical miles west of Tel Aviv. He also found that the prosecution had proved its assertion that broadcasts were made from the Beit El studios.

Arutz Sheva remained defiant. A week after it had been forced to close its radio broadcasts the station was informing supporters (via its internet site) that “Our current efforts are concentrated on two fronts. The first is to enhance our Internet presence and introduce new services. On the political/legislative front we are working together with our supporters to influence the government to "legalise" the Arutz Sheva broadcasts.”

On 5th November 2003 the now silent station announced that it had sold its ship, Eretz Hatzvi to a Turkish buyer for scrap. Yoel Tzur, Arutz Sheva’s Technical Manager, said that there had been two other options: "To sell it for use as a ship, but since it's 35 years it did not attract too many buyers. The other option was simply to sink it, which we did not want to do. Every day it stands idle in the ocean it costs us money, so we chose to sell it for scrap." The ship was broken up within a few days of arriving at the Turkish shipyard.

On 29th December 2003 those convicted of involvement with the operation of Arutz Sheva received their sentences at Jerusalem Magistrates Court.  Four former managers  were given jail sentences ranging from three to six months as well as heavy fines.

Click on picture to enlarge


Key Dates

Ship and Location




Key Dates Technical Ship and Location Staff Treasure Chest

Treasure Chest

Where       next ?

          Back                                  1    2    3    4    5                                           Next

Back to Arutz Sheva

Back to Israel Gallery

Arutz Sheva