When Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced his decision last year to move Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) from its base in Jaffa to the Museum of Underground Prisoners in Jerusalem, it sparked anger from sons and daughters of underground resistance group members who had been imprisoned by the British there.
The offspring of the prisoners were fearful that once Army Radio acquired part of the building, it would eventually take over the whole building, thereby destroying its historic value.
Realizing the sensitivity of the issue, Liberman said he was still interested in relocating to Jerusalem, but would look for an alternate venue.
On Sunday he announced that the Army Radio studios would be located in the renewed Soldiers’ Home (Beit Hehayal) that is being constructed at the entrance to the capital.
In recent months, representatives of the defense establishment, Army Radio and the Jerusalem Municipality looked at a number of potential sites, taking into consideration the needs of all concerned.
It was obvious that the station could not be moved to a residential area and that it should be located in a place of easy access.
There is an existing Beit Hehayal in Jerusalem near the entrance to the city, which will be enlarged and completely restructured to become a defense compound which, in addition to Army Radio, will house an army recruitment center, a home for lone soldiers and more. An area of 2,500 square meters will be allocated to Army Radio, with state-of-the-art studios for use by both Galei Tzahal and its sister station Galgalatz, as well as for digital transmission.
The move will not take place immediately. Planning and permits are expected to take around three years. Nonetheless, as is the case with the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, news will be broadcast from Jerusalem. Liberman and Army Radio chief Shimon Alkabetz reached an agreement that news broadcasts from Army Radio’s Jerusalem studios would begin within the next three months. The studios will be upgraded so as to be compatible with advanced broadcasting technologies.
In his announcement on Sunday, Liberman said that immediately after taking up his position as Defense Minister, he had reached the decision that Army Radio as a public broadcasting entity, must broadcast from Jerusalem, because public broadcasting should emanate from the capital.
Alkabetz concurred, saying the natural source of public broadcasting must be Israel’s capital. He also emphasized how significant it is that soldiers from all over the country who serve at Army Radio not only realize the importance of Jerusalem, but experience the feel and spirit of the city.
President Reuven Rivlin welcomed Liberman’s decision, and was quick to congratulate him. “I am delighted that Army Radio, the home of every soldier, will broadcast from Jerusalem, the heart of the State of Israel,” he said.
Rivlin said he looked forward to the day when every government ministry would have its headquarters in Jerusalem, adding that moving Army Radio was a first step in this direction.