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Gaza war: Israel qualifies for Eurovision final amid protest about its participation

WorldGaza war: Israel qualifies for Eurovision final amid protest about its participation


“I am a Eurovision fan and it breaks my heart, but I’m boycotting,” said 30-year-old protester Hilda, who did not want to provide her surname.

“I can’t have fun knowing that Israel is there participating when all those kids are dying. I think it’s just wrong.”

Police use pepper spray and fight back Pro-Palestinian protesters during the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, on Thursday. Photo: EPA-EFE

Alongside signs that read: “Liberate Palestine”, banners that said “EUR legitimises genocide” and “colonialism cannot be washed in pink” could be seen in the crowd.

About 50 protesters made it to the front of the Malmo Arena, where the event is taking place, before being dispersed by a heavy police presence. Protesters also entered the Eurovision Village, where spectators can follow the concert on large screens.

In a different neighbourhood, about 100 counterprotesters gathered under police protection to express their support for Israel.

Earlier on Thursday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday wished Golan good luck and said she had “already won” by enduring the protests that he called a “horrible wave of antisemitism”.

The war in Gaza was sparked by Hamas’ unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an Agence France-Presse tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also took about 250 hostages. Israel estimates 128 of them remain in Gaza, including 36 who officials say are dead.

Israel in response vowed to crush Hamas and launched a military offensive that has killed at least 34,904 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Protests calling for an end to Israel’s punishing Gaza campaign have broken out on university campuses in North America, Europe and Australia.

Eden Golan, representing Israel, reacts to her advancing to the Eurovision finale in Malmo, Sweden, on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

In 2022, Russia’s state broadcaster was excluded from the European Broadcasting Union, which oversees Eurovision, in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

“I feel like if they can remove Russia why can they not do it to Israel?” said protester Marwo Mustafa.

“Hurricane” has already been partially rewritten and given a new title after Eurovision organisers deemed the original version to be too political.

Since the beginning of the year, several petitions have demanded Israel’s exclusion from the 68th edition of the annual music competition, which opened with the first semi-final on Tuesday.

At the end of March, contestants from nine countries, including Swiss favourite Nemo, called for a lasting ceasefire.

Protester Cecilia Brudell said: “At six and nine, my children are now at an age where they want to watch Eurovision but this year we are completely boycotting it.”



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