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Israel raises travel warning for Malmö ahead of Eurovision Song Contest

Jerusalem upgraded the travel warning for the Swedish city from level 2 (potential threat) to level 3 (moderate threat).

Sweden's national flag alongside a Eurovision Song Contest banner in Malmo, Sweden, Oct. 25, 2023. Credit: Rarrarorro/Shutterstock.
Sweden's national flag alongside a Eurovision Song Contest banner in Malmo, Sweden, Oct. 25, 2023. Credit: Rarrarorro/Shutterstock.

The Israeli National Security Council raised its travel alert level on Thursday for Malmö, Sweden, ahead of next week’s Eurovision Song Contest that will be held there.

The NSC upgraded the travel warning for the city from level 2 (potential threat) to level 3 (moderate threat), recommending that Israelis planning to attend Eurovision reconsider the necessity of the trip.

“Malmo (which has a high concentration of Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi and Iranian migrants) is known as a focus for anti-Israel protests,” the warning read. “It should be noted that on Oct. 7, anti-Israel elements were openly joyful over the massacre that Hamas perpetrated in Israel.”

Paired with the global jihadist threat, these developments raise “the tangible concern that terrorists will exploit the protest and the anti-Israel atmosphere to carry out an attack on Israelis,” the NSC said.

“While the Swedish authorities have increased security in Malmo, it should be noted that, unlike the Israeli delegation to the contest, Israeli visitors will not receive special security,” the council stressed.

For the first time, the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command will issue guidelines to Israelis traveling to Sweden next week in the event of an emergency, the military announced on Thursday.

The Home Front Command will update its application for Israelis staying in Malmö with “instructions for behavior in an emergency situation outside the country’s borders,” the announcement said.

The Home Front Command app is normally only used in Israel, for rocket attacks and national emergencies, including earthquakes.

Earlier on Thursday, Eurovision organizers said that flags representing the Palestinian Liberation Organization and other anti-Israel political symbols would not be allowed at the live shows next week.

A spokesperson for the European Broadcasting Union told the AP that ticket buyers are only allowed to bring banners representing nations participating in the competition, as well as the rainbow LGBT flag.

The EBU reserves the right to “remove any other flags or symbols, clothing, items and banners being used for the likely purpose of instrumentalizing the TV shows,” the organization stated.

Sweden’s TT News Agency reported that anyone who tries to bring a PLO flag or a sign with a political message will be stopped at the entrance.

Martin Österdahl, the musical extravaganza’s executive supervisor, told TT that “these rules are the same as last year. There is no change.”

Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest reaffirmed in February that Israel would be allowed to compete despite calls to exclude it from the competition over the war against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Eurovision contestant Eden Golan landed in Malmö on Tuesday to prepare for the competition, scheduled to begin on May 7.

Golan, 20, will represent the Jewish state in the second semifinal on Thursday, May 9. The grand final will take place two days later.

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