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Israel fears Islamic Jihad will ruin Eurovision

Israel fears that escalation in the Gaza Strip and rockets by Islamic Jihad will chase away the thousands of tourists expected to come to Tel Aviv for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.
Labourers work on the construction of the stage and setting where this year's Eurovision Song Contest shows will be hosted at the Expo Tel Aviv, Israel April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC177BA01C00
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Bahaa Abu el-Atta. That’s the name of the greatest threat to the current state of relative calm along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. As commander of the northern sector of Islamic Jihad, he initiates, leads and directs the group’s most recent attempts to blow up efforts to reach an arrangement between Israel and Hamas. Abu el-Atta received on April 30 an explicit personal warning from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). His name and photo were disseminated to the media, and he was marked by Israeli sources as the man holding the match. Israeli military sources believe Abu el-Atta gave the order to fire a rocket from Gaza into Israeli territory on April 29, and that he was behind Islamic Jihad’s attempts to attack the IDF — in addition to its “low-profile” efforts to fire rockets at Israel. As aforementioned, such a rocket was fired on the evening of April 29, provoking a nonmilitary Israeli response. This could, however, lead to a Palestinian reaction, which would ignite a confrontation in the region. Israel’s warning to Abu el-Atta could be interpreted as an explicit threat that he is being targeted for assassination. It can also be seen as indicative of genuine Israeli concerns that Abu el-Atta could ruin Israel’s grandiose plans for what is scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv in the middle of the month.

The annual Eurovision song contest is scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv May 14-18 in a series of events including semifinals and culminating in the final. This is the biggest music event in the world with the greatest number of viewers. Dozens of delegations representing the various nations of Europe — as well as a few add-ons, or non-Europeans, like Israel and Australia — will compete in a colorful song competition. In mood, this is usually a liberal carnival, flamboyant and free of inhibitions. Israel has been preparing for the event for the past year. It sees Eurovision as an opportunity to highlight the liberal, cosmopolitan face of Tel Aviv, and in fact, the city will be filled with tens of thousands of European tourists. Social networks and television stations will be inundated with clips spreading Eurovision's message, contributing to Israel’s image and its growing tourism industry. It provides a sharp contrast to the conservative, religious processes that Israeli society has experienced over the past few years.

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