Shaul Greenglick, an Israeli soldier and Eurovision Song Contest hopeful, has died in combat amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The 26-year-old singer was one of three soldiers recently reported dead by the Israel Defense Forces, per The Times of Israel, following Israel’s intensified ground operations in Palestine.
The country has been in active war with Hamas since the terrorist group attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,139 people — including at least 350 concertgoers at the Nova Music Festival in Re’im, Israel — and taking around 250 people hostage.
Weeks prior to his death, Greenglick auditioned for Israel’s The Next Star, a singing competition series through which the country’s Eurovision contestant is selected, while on furlough. His emotional performance of a song by Israeli singer-songwriter Hanan Ben Ari on Dec. 3 earned him a place in the show’s next round; however, he reportedly dropped out of the contest in order to return to his military duties.
On Friday (Dec. 29), the IDF stated that it will be “extending operations” in the area of Khan Younis in southern Gaza amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that 2.2 million people who live in the war zone are facing acute hunger; meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency has said that over 150,000 civilians “have nowhere to go” to escape the IDF’s military offensives.
At the time of publication, CNN counts the number of people killed in Gaza since October at 21,507. An additional 55,915 people have been injured, although the outlet notes that it is not able to independently verify the numbers provided by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Eurovision is moving forward. The annual broadcast finds each country in the European Broadcasting Union sending one artist to represent its citizens in an original song and performance contest. All three live Eurovision 2024 programs, both semifinals and the grand final, will air on BBC One on May 7, 9 and 11.