The organisers of the Eurovision song contest have said they are “scrutinising” the lyrics of Israel’s entry after it was claimed it makes reference to the Hamas attacks on 7 October.

The lyrics from Israel’s entry, October Rain, sung by Eden Golan, were leaked to the media. According to the Israel Hayom newspaper, lines in the song include, “There’s no air left to breathe”, and “They were all good children, each one of them”. The song also refers to “flowers”, which the newspaper reported is a military code for war fatalities.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs the competition – to be held in Malmö, Sweden, in May – describes the song contest as a non-political event. Contestants can be disqualified if they break this rule.

Petitions have been circulating calling for Israel to be removed from the event over the war in Gaza, but the EBU said last week that it had conducted a review and decided Israel could participate.

Organisers in Malmö have said the city’s security preparations are factoring in the Gaza conflict, the war in Ukraine, Sweden’s Nato application and cybersecurity threats.

A Eurovision spokesperson said: “The EBU is currently in the process of scrutinising the lyrics, a process which is confidential between the EBU and the broadcaster until a final decision has been taken.

“All broadcasters have until 11 March to formally submit their entries. If a song is deemed unacceptable for any reason, broadcasters are then given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, as per the rules of the contest.”

Israel’s national broadcaster Kan, which sponsors the Israeli entry, confirmed to Reuters that the leaked lyrics were accurate and said it was “in dialogue” with the EBU about the issue. The Guardian has contacted Kan for comment.

The Israeli culture minister, Miki Zohar, said it would be “scandalous” to disqualify the song, which he said was not political.

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“The song of Israel, which will be performed by Eden Golan, is a moving song, which expresses the feelings of the people and the country these days, and is not political,” he wrote on X.

“We all hope that Eurovision will remain a musical and cultural event and not a political arena – where the participating countries can bring their uniqueness and nationalism to the stage through music. I call on the European Broadcasting Union to continue to act professionally and neutrally, and not to let politics affect art.”


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