While politicians in Tel Aviv claim the latest ceasefire deal with Hamas was at its own request, a concern that participants may not attend or even boycott Eurovision meant that Israel wanted hostilities to end quickly.
Many have wondered whether the recent ceasefire deal made between Hamas and Israel was to avert further escalation ahead of the upcoming Eurovision song contests.
The contest is being held in Israel for the first time and is an opportunity for the country to burnish its international standing as it is rapidly becomes the longest occupation in modern history.
The former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, suggested he would like to see what is euphemistically known in Israel as “mowing the lawn,” which is the periodic acts of aggression carried out by Israel that often end in thousands of Palestinians civilians killed or injured.
But first, the show must go on.
“Right after our holidays and Eurovision, Israel must evict Hamas from Gaza. The US should back us militarily and diplomatically and, together with Arab states, commit to Gaza’s renewal,” he wrote on Twitter.
Hamas must go. Right after our holidays and Eurovision, Israel must evict Hamas from Gaza. The U.S. should back us militarily and diplomatically and, together with Arab states, commit to Gaza’s renewal. Peace in the region is impossible with Hamas in Gaza. Israel is ready to act.— Michael Oren (@DrMichaelOren) May 5, 2019
One online user asked, “Does anyone within #Gaza's #Hamas government seriously believe it is wise to attack #Israel with hundreds of rockets a few days ahead of the #EuroVision song contest in Tel Aviv?”
#Palestine: Does anyone within #Gaza's #Hamas government seriously believe it is wise to attack #Israel with hundreds of rockets a few days ahead of the #EuroVision song contest in Tel Aviv? https://t.co/2MPYiCPuhS— Eckard Pfeifer (@man_groove) May 7, 2019
The 42-nation Eurovision song contest has long been identified by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (famously known by its acronym, BDS) as a key event to raise awareness about Israel’s flagrant international law violations.
Israeli commentators have been trying to spin the ceasefire as being sought by Hamas rather than due to the urgency of the upcoming Eurovision song contests.
“Hamas needed a ceasefire in place before the start of Ramadan and that was the catalyst for an agreement, not any Israeli need to protect the Eurovision song contest,” said Israeli commentator Ron Ben Yishai working for Yediot Aharonot, a daily newspaper closely affiliated with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Hamas begged for a ceasefire, for a full 24 hours, before Israel agreed to one. The Israeli objective in this round was to reinstate Israel's deterrence in the eyes of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. It appears this objective was achieved.” https://t.co/rZjCWGn3hw— Martin Kramer (@Martin_Kramer) May 6, 2019
Israel is acutely aware of the fact that a prolonged assault on Gaza would damage its international standing and its attempts to portray Israel as a normal state. The latest attack began last Friday and resulted in the murder of several Palestinians.
Israeli government supporters have portrayed attempts to boycott the Eurovision song contest by international stars as “political war” on Israel.
This is how the political war on Israel works. Hamas fires the rockets and then stooges in the West like this try to convert their war losses into propaganda wins by gleefully calling for Eurovision to be moved to degrade Israel’s international standing and cause its isolation. https://t.co/ig4kIohqi9— Alex Ryvchin (@AlexRyvchin) May 6, 2019
And while Israel seems to have come to a negotiated solution after killing more than 24 Palestinians, including two pregnant women, the main impetus for doing so seems to have indeed been the Eurovision contest.
Israel allegedly ordered IDF: End operations before Eurovision https://t.co/tmJ5gE3GmO— Gadi Adelman (@gadiadelman) May 7, 2019
The Israeli government ordered the army to “achieve the necessary operational goals” in this weekend’s fighting with Hamas before Independence Day and Eurovision
Vivian Bercovici, Israel’s former ambassador to Canada, confirmed that “the only reason everyone’s so exercised is because of Eurovision [sic].”
Well, if I was Hamas leadership I’d be shocked too. It’s typically Israel that is condemned. No? Only reason everyone’s so exercised is cuz of Eurovision. Even Mogherini condemned Hamas. Non of the usual equivocation. After the big show it’ll be back to the regular channel....— Vivian Bercovici (@VivianBercovici) May 6, 2019
A further assault by Israel, however, cannot be ruled out. Far from being about the loss of Palestinian lives and the destruction of their livelihood, Israel’s attempts to control the PR war is more about how it would look given its past track record.
Thus Netanyahu must have also took this into consideration--end this round of fighting ASAP, and make sure it does not gush over into Tel Aviv, which could bring thousands of cancellations, or even cancellation of the show itself. If this is true then its Israel's PR at its best.— Louis Fishman (@Istanbultelaviv) May 6, 2019
While the latest Israeli escalation has ended, recent history shows that when Israel feels it can get away with bombing Gaza without consequence, it will surely do so again.