On the same day that rehearsals for this month's Eurovision Song Contest began in Tel Aviv, over 200 rockets were launched towards Israel from Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Furthermore, Israeli citizens are on the eve of marking Israel's Memorial Day and Independence Day on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
According to MK Gilad Erdan (Likud), Eurovision and Independence Day will play no bearing whatsoever on Israel's response to terror groups. "The Independence Day events and Eurovision should not be a consideration of the intensity of the blow that the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip must absorb," Erdan wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday. "Independence is not just plastic hammers or spray foam. Real independence is to fight back forcefully and allow the children of Israel and all of us to sleep peacefully at night."
However, the timing cannot be ignored and the Gaza terror groups have made their intentions clear. Eurovision is scheduled to begin in ten days but the Islamic Jihad terror group is determined to change that. “We will stop the enemy from establishing a festival intended to harm the Palestinian narrative,” the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said in a statement published on Saturday. “The resistance is obligated to respond to the enemy’s aggression and to surprise it."
The PIJ's threat is just the latest in a series of threats from Gaza terror groups to sabotage Eurovision. Last week, Channel 13 News reported that a Palestinian source told Al-Akhbar: "In the near future, pressure from the Gaza Strip will increase to the point that it might lead to the ruining of the upcoming Eurovision song contest."
Last month, Kan News published a video on its Twitter account of Gazans threatening to attack Israel during the Eurovision contest if Israel didn't give in to its demands and lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and PIJ, dissatisfied with the sluggish pace of the Egyptian attempt of a ceasefire between Gaza terror groups and Israel, the delay of Qatari funds, and restrictions on Gaza fisherman, timed their escalation well. They're hoping that Israel will do anything it can to avoid further escalation at this sensitive time, giving in to Palestinian demands without demanding further concessions.
However, according to Sharon Ben-David, the head of Kan’s Eurovision spokesperson’s office, the show will go on. In an interview on Army Radio on Sunday, she said: "The Home Front Command informed us this morning that everything is as usual. From our view, all is normal. We're continuing our routine. Rehearsals have started, the contestants have been updated on the situation and have responded well. We're working as usual for Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv. As long as no sirens go off in the center of the country, it’s only a matter of reports and updates. We have prepared for these type of scenarios and responses for months."
The Eurovision finale is scheduled for May 18.