No Restraint Will Be Shown in Gaza Because of Eurovision, Ministers Say

Gilad Erdan says 'cultural events should not be a consideration when it comes to the force of our response'

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Madonna, in Las Vegas, May 1, 2019. The singer is supposed to attend the Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv
Madonna, in Las Vegas, May 1, 2019. The singer is supposed to attend the Eurovision song contest in Tel AvivCredit: AFP

Israeli government ministers said Sunday that Eurovision 2019 does not effect Israel's military considerations in relation to the recent escalation in Gaza.

Gilad Erdan, minister of public security and strategic affairs who is also a member of the security cabinet, said at an event ahead of Independence Day at the National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem that "cultural events should not be a consideration when it comes to the strength of our retaliation."

Erdan called for Israel to "increase our assault on Gaza until there is quiet and return to targeted assassinations."

In relation to Independence Day, which takes place this week, Erdan said, "Even if the Independence Day airshow is joined by attack planes, and the fires of the barbecues are joined by the fire that we will rain down on the terrorist organizations, we will fulfill the will of the fallen, fulfill our Independence, sleep well at night and preserve our daily routine."

Preparations for Eurovision 2019, Expo Tel Aviv, April 2019.Credit: AFP

According to Science Minister Ofir Akunis, Eurovision 2019 is "at the bottom of the priority list."

Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi referred to Eurovision 2019, which is slated to begin next week, and said that the song contest is not affected by the Israeli military concerns.

"For Eurovision, which is a cultural event, this cannot be a concern," he said. "In general, for Israel doesn't have an interest in launching a [full scale] military campaign. All of this year we've made endless efforts, and even sustained domestic criticism over the fact that the goal, as presented by the political leadership, has been to come to an arrangement and understandings that will spare us casualties. But it wouldn't occur to me that in a cabinet meeting, or a security forum, that they would consider a musical event, an entertainment event."

>> Read more: Hamas twists Israel's arm right before the Eurovision and Independence Day | Analysis ■ In Gaza crisis, Israel wants from Egypt more than Cairo cares to deliver | Analysis ■ Over 400 Gaza rockets fired at Israel; One Israeli dead eight Palestinians killed | Live Updates

In a week that marks Independence Day, Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers, and one week until Eurovision 2019, Hamas is making use of the timing to pressure Israel. Hundreds of millions are expected to tune into Eurovision 2019. If the broadcast were to be disrupted, or even cancelled, due to Hamas threats, it will be a huge blow to Israel's prestige.

Israeli security officials said Saturday that Eurovision will not restrain the force of Israel's military response, but it is doubtful if Hamas is convinced of that.

Gilad Erdan speaks at the National Police Headquarters, Jerusalem, May 5, 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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