A threatening video circulating on social media has prompted the Israel Defense Forces to set up their Iron Dome systems in central Israel, including the area surrounding Tel Aviv and the Eurovision 2019 venue.
Israel’s Iron Dome is a defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells. Its various batteries, or units, have been operational since 2011 and can destroy projectiles from distances of four to 70 kilometers away.
The system has largely been deployed in the south of the country, near the Gaza Strip, from which Hamas has typically fired its rockets.
But as Mako report, Israeli officials set up batteries in the center of the country on Tuesday, apparently to protect Gush Dan — the region that is home to the Tel Aviv EXPO, the home of Eurovision 2019.
The decision comes after Hamas published a threatening video, which shows the Tel Aviv EXPO in the crosshairs of a targeted airstrike. We have chosen not to publish the video here, but you can visit the Mako story (liked above) if you’d like to view it.
Pundits have suggested that Hamas is using the video to pressure Israel into a cease fire agreement. It also conveys just how important hosting Eurovision is to Israel, given that Hamas is attempting to leverage it to a larger end.
At the same time, it’s known that Hamas relies heavily on its public image. Attacking a large scale international event would be a PR catastrophe. A target on Eurovision would be an attack on citizens of dozens of countries present for the event.
You’ll recall that in March two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv from the Gaza Strip for the first time since the 2014 war. In retaliation, the IDF hit more than 100 Hamas targets in Gaza.
The recent video comes just days after an Israeli delegation of business leaders and government reps had to cancel a trip to Bahrain. Another animated video was released at that time threatening the Israeli delegation. In that video, an Israeli plane landed in Bahrain, and a bomber released a bomb onto the delegation’s hotel.