The Hagana's Resistance Radio

During the struggle against the British authorities prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, the Hagana – the main and by far the biggest Jewish resistance movement, operated a clandestine shortwave radio station which was called Kol Yisrael (Voice of Israel). On the day the State of Israel was born, Kol Yisrael became the national Israeli radio.

The broadcasts of Kol Yisrael meant to circumvent the broadcasts by Kol Jerusalem, the radio station run by the British Mandate in Eretz Israel which began broadcasting in 1936 in three languages (English, Hebrew and Arabic). Kol Jerusalem was subject to British censorship and couldn’t broadcast national and political messages. The resistance radio station took it upon itself to bring listeners vital and uncensored information, accompanied by material related to the activities of the Hagana and the Yishuv – the Jewish community in Eretz Israel.

Kol Yisrael began broadcasting in the winter of 1940. After only three months, as Britain's Middle Eastern battlefront positions deteriorated due to the fall of France and Italy's entry into the war alongside the Germans, broadcasts were halted. They were renewed in the autumn of 1945, with the establishment of the Jewish Resistance Movement – a common front of all Jewish resistance movements against the British. On the eve of the establishment of the State, the Haganah operated a number of radio stations simultaneously: Kol Yisrael, Telem Shamir Boaz, Kol Hagalil, Kol Hamagen Ha'ivri (Jerusalem) and Kol Hahaganah (Haifa).

All of the resistance radio broadcasts were conducted secretly and posed a great risk to their operators. Most of the transmitters were encoded inside suitcases that were moved from place to place. Broadcasts were generally short, lasting only 5-10 minutes, in order to prevent the British from pinpointing the stations' locations.

The Hagana also used of course, starting in the mid 1930’s, clandestine radio communication for its own operational needs. Three networks were maintained: the ‘Avinoam’ network was used for communication between the Hagana’s headquarter in Tel Aviv and Jewish settlements all over the country where regional headquarters were located; the ‘Tamar’ networks was used by the Palmach – the elite military forces of the Hagana; the ‘Gideon’ network was used for communication related to the clandestine immigration to Eretz Israel (Aliya Bet) and included stations in Europe and, after WW-II, also onboard the vessels sailing to Eretz Israel.

It should be mentioned that the small Jewish resistance movements also maintained clandestine shortwave radio stations of their own.

Based primarily on words written by the historian Dr. Mordechai Naor.

The stamp was issued in 2014 to commemorate the clandestine radio stations of all the Jewish resistance movements, designer: Osnat Eshel.