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Eurovision entrants sign statement calling for 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire and 'return of all hostages'

Olly Alexander, the UK's act for Eurovision, has signed a joint statement alongside other entrants for this year's song contest, to call for an "immediate and lasting ceasefire" in Gaza.

The Years and Years singer posted the statement on X, which was also signed by Ireland's hopeful Bambie Thug, Finland's Windows95Man, Gate from Norway, Iolanda from Portugal, San Marino band Megara, Switzerland's Nemo, SABA from Denmark and Silvester Belt from Lithuania.

"We want to begin by acknowledging the privilege of taking part in Eurovision," the statement begins, going on to say "we do not feel comfortable being silent" in light of the current situation in Gaza.

The statement added: "It is important to us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and communicate our heartfelt wish for peace, an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and the safe return of all hostages.

"We stand untied against all forms of hate, including antisemitism and Islamophobia."

The artists wrote that it is their "duty to create and uphold this space, with a strong hope that it will inspire greater compassion and empathy".

It comes after Alexander, 33, previously signed an open letter from LGBTQ+ activist group Voices4London, which called for a ceasefire in Gaza and for Israel to allow aid into the area.

The letter accused Israel of genocide and described it as an "apartheid state".

Pressure was put on European broadcasters to boycott Israel's participation in this year's contest due to the war.

In February, more than 1,000 musicians in Sweden - the host for this year's contest - wrote an open letter to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which organises Eurovision and SVT, which is the country's host broadcaster, accusing them of "double standards".

This year's hopeful for Israel, Eden Golan, also had to change the lyrics to the country's entry after its lyrics caused controversy because it was thought to reference the 7 October Hamas attacks.

Israel's public broadcaster Kan agreed to amend the word's following an intervention by the country's president Isaac Herzog.

The song is now entitled Hurricane.

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More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 70,000 injured during the Israeli military's offensive, according to the Gaza health ministry.

The offensive began after Hamas killed around 1,200 people and kidnapped hundreds more in cross-border attacks on 7 October, according to Israeli authorities.

Alexander will join the other acts from across Europe - and Australia - in Malmo, Sweden, in May for the contest.

Earlier this month, he unveiled his single Dizzy as the UK's entry this year.