Saturday’s Backstreet Boys concert in Israel canceled as conflict with Gaza drags on

Authorities scrap Rishon Lezion show because of security considerations

The Backstreet Boys performing in Rishon Lezion on April 22, 2018. (Courtesy: Orit Pnini)
The Backstreet Boys performing in Rishon Lezion on April 22, 2018. (Courtesy: Orit Pnini)

Authorities on Friday canceled a concert of ’90s boy band the Backstreet Boys which had been planned to take place in Rishon Lezion Saturday night, citing the ongoing military conflict with the Gaza Strip and the threat of rocket attacks.

The decision was made in a meeting between officials in the IDF’s Home Front Command and the Rishon Lezion municipality.

“The cancellation is the result of risk assessment,” the Home Front Command said. “Every matter is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”

A representative for the production said they will attempt to reschedule the concert, and that all tickets will be honored at a future concert.

“Due to the ongoing instability and the lack of clarity regarding the security situation, and out of deep concern for the safety of the audience and the band’s fans, the representatives of Live Nation together with the members of the Backstreet Boys and the band’s managers decided to postpone the performance that was supposed to take place on May 13 at Live Park Rishon LeZion,” Live Nation said in a statement.

The decision came a day after Israeli rock star Aviv Geffen played a show in Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park despite the threat of rocket fire from Gaza, with an estimated 40,000 people attending.

That decision had come under some criticism as well, but Geffen said authorities had okayed the performance and told attendants: “No one will silence Israel, ever!”

Home Front Command officials noted that “the venue and location of the [Backstreet Boys] show are different from HaYarkon Park,” without going into details on the considerations.

On Thursday, video captured by someone in Geffen’s audience showed Iron Dome interceptors exploding in the sky in the distance, taking down rockets fired toward the country’s central Gush Dan region, though it was not possible to assess how close they were to Tel Aviv.

The Backstreet Boys were last in Israel in 2018 for their 25th anniversary tour at the same venue. Live Park Rishon LeZion holds about 15,000 fans, and both this year’s concert and the 2018 concert sold out in a matter of days. The band is currently on the DNA World Tour, their 11th world tour, in support of their latest album, Backstreet Boys: DNA, which was released in 2019.

In 2014, the Backstreet Boys were forced to cancel their Israel show due to Operation Protective Edge. That show was not rescheduled.

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday afternoon that as of 4 p.m., Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had launched 937 rockets and mortars at Israel since the beginning of Operation Shield and Arrow on Tuesday.

It said 761 of the projectiles crossed the border, while 181 fell short in Gaza. Air defense systems intercepted 296 of the rockets, marking a 91% interception rate of projectiles heading for populated areas. Several landed within towns, killing one and injuring several others, as well as causing damage.

The military says it has carried out strikes against 254 sites belonging to Islamic Jihad.

International mediators have been working toward a ceasefire between the sides, but with no tangible results so far.

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