WATCH: Second Eurovision Semifinal in Tel Aviv

Russia and the Netherlands are among the countries who won a spot in Saturday's final

Eurovision 2019: The Swedish delegation performs in the second semi-final, May 16, 2019.
Eurovision 2019: The Swedish delegation performs in the second semi-final, May 16, 2019.Credit: AMIR COHEN/Reuters

The second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest took place Thursday night in Tel Aviv, with Russia and the Netherlands among the ten countries that won spots in Saturday's final.

Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv: Second semi-final

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Malta, North Macedonia, Albania, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland are also advancing to the final.

Eighteen countries competed in the second semifinal, which was considered to be a night of stronger performances than the first semifinal. The countries that competed Thursday were Armenia, Ireland, Moldova, Switzerland, Latvia, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Croatia, Malta, Lithuania, Russia, Albania, Norway, the Netherlands, North Macedonia and Azerbaijan.

Eurovision 2019: The Russian song in the second semi-final, May 16, 2019.
Eurovision 2019: The Dutch song in the second semi-final, May 16, 2019.

On Thursday, Tel Aviv will also host the "White Night," numerous nighttime parties and events throughout the city.

The first acts qualified for Saturday's final on Tuesday, after contestants from 17 countries competed for 10 spots. The Czech Republic, Greece, Belarus, Serbia, Cyprus, Estonia, Australia, Iceland, San Marino and Slovenia made it into the final.

Eurovision 2019: The Danish delegation performs in the second semi-final, May 16, 2019.Credit: AMIR COHEN/Reuters

The so-called "Big Five" - Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - automatically get into the Grand Final as they make the biggest financial contributions to the European Broadcasting Union, which produces the competition. In addition Israel, as the host country, pre-qualifies.

Last year's winner, Israel's Netta Barzilai, opened the show on Tuesday night with a special version of her song "Toy" which catapulted her to fame this time last year in Lisbon.

Eurovision 2019: The delegation from Malta performs in the second semi-final, May 16, 2019.Credit: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Netta Barzilai opening the Eurovision's first semi-final in Tel Aviv with 'Toy.'

Dana International who won for Israel in 1998 sang at the end of Tuesday's show, which was hosted by supermodel Bar Refaeli, broadcaster Erez Tal and television host Assi Azar.

Hatari, Iceland's leather-clad techno-punk entry, which has won a spot in the final, had said that Israel's "political reality is conflicting and absurd" and its "apartheid is clear."

Eurovision 2019: The Albanian delegation performs in the second semi-final, May 16, 2019.Credit: AMIR COHEN/Reuters

The band, whose song "Hate Will Prevail" won Reykjavik's pre-Eurovision competition, had been politically outspoken about their participation in the song contest even before arriving in Israel. They initially said Iceland shouldn't perform in the contest in Israel, but said that since it already is, the band would come with the declared intention to protest Israeli policy.

Israel's webcast of the Eurovision Song Contest semi-final was hacked with animated images of explosions in host city Tel Aviv, which the national broadcaster blamed on Hamas militants.

The hacking of Kan's website did not affect the regular television relay of the show on Tuesday night in Israel or abroad.

Israel's hosting of the 2019 version of the European music competition has drawn pro-Palestinian boycott calls to protest against Israeli policies.

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