Israel qualifies for Eurovision final amid protest against its participation over Gaza

Israel qualified for this weekend's Eurovision song contest grand finale as thousands of demonstrators marched through Sweden's Malmo on Thursday to protest its participation over the Gaza war.

Singer Eden Golan performed her song "Hurricane" in Thursday's second semi-final without incident in front of 9,000 spectators at the Malmo Arena and booked her place in Saturday's final after a televote.

Earlier in the day, more than 10,000 people including climate activist Greta Thunberg gathered in Malmo's main square before marching through the southern city's central pedestrian shopping street, according to police estimates.

"I am a Eurovision fan and it breaks my heart, but I'm boycotting," 30-year-old protester Hilda, who did not want to provide her surname, told AFP.

"I can't have fun knowing that Israel is there participating when all those kids are dying. I think it's just wrong."

Alongside signs that read: "Liberate Palestine", banners that said "EUR legitimises genocide" and "colonialism cannot be washed in pink" could be seen in the crowd.

About 50 protesters made it to the front of the Malmo Arena, where the event is taking place, before being dispersed by a heavy police presence. Protesters also entered the Eurovision Village, where spectators can follow the concert on large screens.

In a different neighbourhood, about 100 counter-protesters gathered under police protection to express their support for Israel.


Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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