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Israeli security officials at Eurovision bracing for pro-Hamas provocations

Shin Bet head Ronen Bar reportedly visited Malmö ahead of time to approve security plans.

Eden Golan, winner of the reality show “The Next Star to Eurovision,” during the final competition on the show, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo by Koko/Flash90.
Eden Golan, winner of the reality show “The Next Star to Eurovision,” during the final competition on the show, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo by Koko/Flash90.

Officials responsible for securing Israel’s delegation to the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden are bracing for pro-Hamas “provocations” targeting Israeli contestant Eden Golan, Ynet reported on Tuesday, hours before the musical extravaganza’s semifinals were set to kick off.

According to the report, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Ronen Bar visited Malmö last week to approve security plans and coordinate with local officials to ensure the security of the delegation.

Ynet noted that Bar’s tour of the Eurovision venue is considered unusual, given the ongoing tensions on Israel’s borders.

Golan landed in Malmö last week to prepare for the competition, which begins on Tuesday night. She will represent the Jewish state in the second semifinal on Thursday. The final will take place two days later.

The 20-year-old, accompanied by a heavy security detail, will be forced to refrain from participating in public events and interviews—the Israeli delegation has been instructed to leave the hotel as little as possible.

Swedish authorities have promised “visible” security measures around the event, including police reinforcements from Denmark and Norway.

In the coming days, two large pro-Hamas protests are expected to take place outside the competition hall, Israel Hayom reported on Monday.

Channel 12 aired footage on Tuesday of an anti-Israel disruption during a concert of Austrian singer and drag queen Conchita Wurst, who won the 2014 contest and was once a guest of honor at Tel Aviv Pride.

The report said protesters waving Palestinian flags broke into the concert at the Eurovision Village, chanting: “Stop murdering Palestinians.” Wurst continued as if nothing had happened.

On Thursday, the European Broadcasting Union reiterated that flags representing the Palestinian Liberation Organization and other anti-Israel political symbols would not be allowed at the live shows.

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.

Also last week, Israel’s National Security Council raised its travel alert level for Malmö. The NSC upgraded the travel warning for the Swedish city from level 2 (potential threat) to level 3 (moderate threat), recommending that Israelis reconsider the necessity of the trip.

“Malmö (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.

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

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

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