Defying boycott call, Iceland says it will take part in Jerusalem Eurovision
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Defying boycott call, Iceland says it will take part in Jerusalem Eurovision

Local broadcaster dismisses online petition signed by 11,000 calling on country to stay home over Israel’s Gaza policies

Israel's Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/Francisco Leong)
Israel's Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/Francisco Leong)

Iceland intends to take part in next year’s Eurovision song contest in Israel despite a popular petition calling to boycott the event, the country’s national broadcaster said.

Commenting on the petition, which received more than 11,000 signatures Tuesday, Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson, program director of the RÚV broadcaster, told the MBL news site: “We expect to take part next year just like every year.”

Iceland has 330,000 residents. If all the cosignatories of the Icelandic-language petition are indeed from that country, they account for 3.3 percent of its population.

“In recent months, Israel has murdered dozens of people merely for protesting their situation,” reads the petition.

In recent weeks, Israeli security forces were said to have shot and killed about 100 people in a series of violent clashes along its border with the Gaza Strip, ruled by the terror group Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel.

A Palestinian demonstrator hurls stones during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip, east of Gaza City, on May 11, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Most of the clashes happened during Hamas-organized marches with the stated intent of trying to break the blockade on the territory. Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas from acquiring weaponry and attacking the Jewish state.

Palestinian rioters hurled hundreds of firebombs at Israel and interfered with the border fence despite warnings not to. Dozens of those killed were members of Palestinian terrorist groups, according to Israel.

Many countries, including Sweden, France and the United Kingdom, have accused Israel of using disproportionate force in the riots, which on Monday ended with over 60 Palestinians dead and hundreds wounded. But the United States, Australia and other countries said Hamas was to blame for the violence and its aftermath.

“In view of the human rights abuses of Israel against the Palestinian people, it is morally indefensible to engage in a glamorous even like the Eurovision,” the Icelandic petition to RÚV, which is the sponsor of the Icelandic entrant, reads.

Israel won the Eurovision Saturday, making it the host of the 2019 contest.

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