Madonna touches down in Israel at start of world tour

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International music icon Madonna arrived in Israel on Friday to kick off her hotly anticipated world tour with a sold-out performance in Tel Aviv.

She arrived amid tight security on a chartered El Al flight from New York, accompanied by partner Brahim Zaibat, her four children and an entourage of 70, local media reported.

Thursday's Tel Aviv show is the first of 84 dates across Europe and the Americas, according to her website.

They are to be followed by a visit to Australia, where Madonna has not appeared in 20 years, it said.

The tour -- Madonna's first since her wildly successful "Sticky and Sweet" outing in 2008 and 2009 -- will support her new album "MDNA."

She last performed in Israel in 2009, on the Sticky and Sweet tour.

During that visit she met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, the holiest site where Jews are allowed to pray.

Although not Jewish, Madonna is a keen follower of the Jewish mystic discipline of Kabbalah.

She visited Israel in 2004 and 2007 on private trips.

Saturday night marks the start of the week-long Jewish holiday of Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks.

Israeli public radio said that Madonna was expected to spend much of the holiday "resting and making short trips," with rehearsals on the eve of her show.

Walla! news website said that among the star's demands for the backstage area at the Ramat Gan football stadium are a treatment room with massage table and jacuzzi, a personal laundry room and spaces for Madonna, her children, her dressmaker and other staff.

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