Shin Bet head visits Malmo to coordinate security for Israel’s Eurovision entry

Bar visited Swedish city last week with delegation from security service’s VIP protection division to coordinate arrangements for Eden Golan’s participation in contest

Shin Bet head Ronen Bar attends the annual Holocaust Day ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, May 5, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/ Flash90)
Shin Bet head Ronen Bar attends the annual Holocaust Day ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, May 5, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/ Flash90)

The head of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency led a delegation of officials from the VIP protection department to Malmo in Sweden last week to coordinate security arrangements for Israel’s participants in the Eurovision Song Contest, defense sources told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

The competition has been overshadowed by protests against Israel’s participation due to the ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s contestant, Eden Golan, is accompanied in Malmo by a heavy security presence and she is skipping most events throughout the week aside from the live shows and rehearsals.

Bar’s visit to Malmo was first reported by the Ynet news site, which described the trip as “very unusual” compared to the normal procedures for an Israeli delegation to the song contest.

According to the report, the Shin Bet expects “provocations” aimed at Golan, adding urgency to the coordination between Israeli and local security bodies in Sweden.

In response to the report, a Shin Bet spokesperson told The Times of Israel that it “does not comment on the head of the service’s schedule.”

Israel’s Eden Golan (center) rehearsing her song ‘Hurricane’ ahead of the Eurovision in Malmo, Sweden, on April 30, 2024. (Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU)

Anti-Israel activists rallied for months to have Israel barred from the 2024 contest, a move the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the competition, rejected.

Malmo is bracing for possible unrest during the week although police have said there have been no concrete threats against the event. Thousands are expected to attend anti-Israel rallies in Malmo throughout the contest period.

Malmo police told The Times of Israel that no demonstrations will be allowed in the area surrounding the Eurovision arena.

Last week, Israel further raised its own travel warning to the southern Swedish city, citing “a well-founded fear” that terrorists would target Israelis attending the competition.

Police stand guard as people wait in line for the second dress rehearsal for the first semifinal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, May 6, 2024. (Martin Meissner/AP)

Golan will not be performing until the second semifinal on Thursday, and the final takes place on Saturday. Channel 12 News reported last week that she will be accompanied by a much higher caliber of security team than any previous contestant.

The competition is hugely popular in Israel, which has won it four times. Bookmakers rank this year’s entry in the top 10.

There has been a surge in pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protests around the world since the outbreak of the war which erupted on October 7 when the Palestinian terror group Hamas led a massive cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people. The approximately 3,000 attackers also abducted 252 people and took them as hostages to the Gaza Strip.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched an offensive in Gaza to destroy Hamas, topple its regime, and free the hostages, of whom 128 remain in captivity.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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