Israeli regulators have announced that they ordered a US-based evangelical broadcaster God TV taken off the air, saying the channel hid its missionary agenda when it applied for a license.
NBC News reports that Israel's regulator on June 29 ordered the evangelical Christian broadcaster's new channel off the air, saying it applied to serve a Christian audience but instead has sought to persuade Jews with the gospel of Jesus.
The spokesman for Shelanu, Ron Cantor, Israel regional director for God TV, said it was false that the broadcaster had broken its agreement.
"Our license, granted by the state of Israel, says in Hebrew that our target audience is the audience of Israeli viewers," Cantor said in a statement emailed to NBC. "There is no stipulation whatsoever that we must target Christians."
The Hebrew-language channel has been broadcasting under the name "Shelanu," meaning "Ours," since the end of April on the HOT cable network on a seven-year broadcasting license.
Israel authorities said that GOD-TV's license did not allow missionary activity, and the Isralei newspaper Haaretz reported that its application said its target audience was the Christian community in Israel, The Times of Israel reported.
But statements on the channel's website and from its CEO after it started broadcasting in Israel suggested that evangelising to Jews in Israel was a core goal.
"Today we made history! For the first time ever, a Messianic television channel is broadcasting the Gospel across Israel in the Hebrew language," read a post on the network's website.
"Shelanu translates to 'Ours' in Hebrew. We want every person in Israel to know, not a foreign Messiah, but a Jewish one! His name is Yeshua and He has not forgotten His people."
It is illegal in Israel to proselytise to children under the age of 18 without the consent of their parents. But Christians proselytising to Jews is a sensitive topic in general in Israel said the Times of Israel.
The newspaper said that The Christian channels Daystar and Middle East Television both broadcast on another Israeli network, but they run programming only in English and do not tout any proselytising.