Army Radio.
Army Radio.Photo: Tamar Neuberg. Flash 90

Former Army Radio commander res. Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu revealed in an interview with Yediot Aharonot that during the period leading up to the 2005 disengagement from Gush Katif - when all Jewish residents were forcibly evacuated from the Gaza Strip - MKs who opposed the evacuation were intentionally denied air time on the Kol Yisrael radio stations.

"During the disengagement period all the 'rebel MKs', those who were opposed to the plan, didn't get a chance to air out their views on Kol Yisrael, and this by orders from high up," Benayahu recounted, "I naturally allowed them to be interviewed on Army Radio, and received messages from [then Prime Minister] Arik Sharon that I'm giving air time to the extreme right, to fringe elements.

Benayahu spoke to Yediot Aharonot as part of a joint interview with several former Army Radio commanders, discussing the station and its future.

The former commanders were also asked about the "Razi Barkai affair", in which Army Radio host Barkai compared the pain of bereaved Israeli families with the pain of the families of Palestinian terrorists.

"We need to remember that Razi comes from a bereaved family himself, so his comments have some meaning," claimed former commander Nahman Shai, "I would have had a conversation with him if I was still running the station, but I wouldn't have lashed out at him and certainly wouldn't have shortened his show by an hour as was done. Things shouldn't go this way."

Yitzchak Tunik, another of the former commanders claimed: "Interested parties spun Razi's comments in ways in which they were never intended. His attempts at explanation didn't help and I was disturbed by the fact that he didn't immediately receive the backing of the Army Radio commander."

Benayahu remembered an interview during his tenure in Army Radio with Arab journalist and writer Sayed Kashua. "On independence day night I walked out of a friends house and into my car, and I hear an interview with Sayed Kashua who's talking about IDF officers stamping on Palestinian rights with iron boots in an era of occupation. It felt like something that was intended to make me mad. So I rebuked those running the show on which the interview was done and they just said 'we're waiting for a response from the army.'

"Many times I detected a desire among the young broadcasters and show hosts to create provocation so that I'll act against them and it'll then get into the media. They hoped this would lead to them getting work at channel 2. People would ask why I got involved. I said 'I am the editor-in-chief, what do you mean why?'"