Israel deploys Iron Dome defence system across country ahead of Eurovision

Israel has reportedly deployed its notorious Iron Dome defence system ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest later this week.

According to newspaper Haaretz, batteries of missiles which are designed to intercept incoming projectiles, have been deployed across the country amid security concerns. 

Last Monday, Israel and Palestine agreed a ceasefire following a ferocious missile exchange which saw nearly 700 rockets fired across the border. 

Four Israelis and 25 Palestinians were said to have been killed in the strikes. 

Following the precarious ceasefire the US embassy in Tel Aviv warned of the potential for rocket attacks during the Song Contest. 

‘Terrorist groups may choose the anniversary, which coincides with the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv to conduct violent protests or an attack,’ The US Embassy said in a security alert on sent out this week.

‘Security incidents can occur well beyond Gaza and its periphery and at any time.’ 

Last week, Palestinian forces claimed the Iron Dome system was breached by its rocket barrage, raising questions over the effectiveness of the multi-million dollar system.

At the weekend around 690 missiles were launched into Israel over the course of two days, leaving four civilians dead and injuring nearly 200 people.

But of the hundreds of projectiles fired into the country, the Iron Dome only intercepted 240, according to Haaretz. 

Now security experts in Israel are questioning why the Iron Dome was not more successful in intercepting more projectiles launched at civilian targets – striking fears of it failing if an attack were to take place during Eurovision. 

Israel earned the right to host the contest after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai carried off last year’s prize with her pop anthem ‘Toy.’ 

Perhaps anticipating controversy, organisers decided to hold the contest in Tel Aviv — Israel’s freewheeling cultural capital known for its beaches and gay-friendly lifestyle — instead of contested, conservative Jerusalem.

But almost immediately, the Palestinian-led BDS movement, which promotes boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, began calling on performers to pull out of the contest over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. 

Dozens of European artists, led by former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, signed a letter calling for the contest to be moved elsewhere. 

Adding to tensions, the contest coincides with the day that Palestinians commemorate as the anniversary of their ‘nakba,’ or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled or were forced from their homes in the 1948 war that led to the establishment of Israel.

Scores of demonstrations to mark the day of mourning and protest Eurovision are planned throughout the country and in the Palestinian territories.  

Yesterday a Eurovision billboard protesting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank was erected near the Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Split between a beachfront lifeguard station and an Israeli military watchtower, the billboard reads, ‘Dare to Dream of Freedom,’ a play on this year’s official Eurovision slogan.  

Left-wing Israeli activist group Break the Silence was responsible for the sign.

Its director Avner Gvaryahu said he wants tourists coming to watch Eurovision to tour parts of the West Bank to ‘see the full picture’ of the conflict. 

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