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Israeli fans warned to hide their identity at World Cup in Qatar

Israeli Foreign Ministry concerned over potential security, diplomatic crises with the conservative Muslim nation

A man takes a picture of a decorated road in Doha on Nov. 12, 2022, ahead of the World Cup finals in Qatar opening Nov. 20. (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)

While FIFA has given a green light to Israeli soccer fans to be able to attend the international sporting event, the presence of Israelis in Qatar presents a security challenge, considering the nation's proximity to Iran.

“The Iranian team will be in the World Cup and we estimate that tens of thousands fans will follow it, and there will be other fans from Gulf countries that we don’t have diplomatic relationship with,” said Lior Haiat, head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate at Israel’s Prime Minister Office. “Downplay your Israeli presence and Israeli identity for the sake of your personal security.”

The entry of Israelis into Qatar on their Israeli passports is historic considering Jerusalem and Doha do not have diplomatic relations.

In addition to security concerns, Israeli officials are worried about a potential diplomatic crisis. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has launched a campaign to educate the nation’s soccer fans about the laws and customs of the Muslim country, which – among other things – prohibits alcohol and drug use.

So far, about 4,000 Israelis and 8,000 Palestinians received entry visas to Qatar for the tournament. 

Israeli diplomats will be on hand to provide consular support to Israeli citizens if needed.

While no airline has made a bid to fly nonstop from Tel Aviv to Doha, one – Cyprus-based TUS Airways – will operate “direct” flights from Tel Aviv but with a “diplomatic layover” in Larnaca.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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