Israel urges soccer fans going to Qatar to keep low profile

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel is urging its residents touring to the FIFA World Cup this week to be much less visibly Israeli.

The unprecedented inflow of 1000’s of Israeli followers descending on Doha for the primary World Cup within the Center East has raised fears of an embarrassing diplomatic disaster between the nations with no formal diplomatic relations.

Israel’s warning is a part of a Overseas Ministry marketing campaign, launched Wednesday, to teach the nation’s soccer followers about legal guidelines and customs within the conservative Muslim nation.

The marketing campaign web site, in Hebrew and Arabic, outlines a possible minefield awaiting Israeli vacationers — who don’t have a fame for being discreet — in Qatar, a rustic that criminalizes homosexuality, bans medicine and restricts alcohol consumption.

Like many Gulf Arab residents, together with these within the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which normalized relations with Israeli in 2020, Qataris have a historical past of assist to the Palestinian trigger.

Additional complicating issues, followers and officers from Israel’s archenemy Iran can be on the event in Qatar, a brief, 40-minute flight from Iran.

The marketing campaign asks Israelis to cover any Israeli symbols — presumably a reference to Israeli flags and Stars of David.

“The Iranian group can be within the World Cup and we estimate that tens of 1000’s followers will observe it, and there can be different followers from Gulf nations that we don’t have diplomatic relationship with,” stated Lior Haiat, a senior Israeli diplomat.

“Downplay your Israeli presence and Israeli identification for the sake of your private safety,” Haiat stated, addressing the Israeli followers.

In a landmark deal, Israelis with out international passports can now journey to Qatar for the World Cup regardless of the dearth of formal ties. Qatar introduced final week it’s going to even permit direct flights from Tel Aviv to Doha for Israelis, in addition to for Palestinians within the West Financial institution and Gaza, whose capacity to journey depends upon Israeli authorities approval.

As a part of the settlement, Qatar will allow Israeli diplomats, by way of a non-public journey firm, to offer consular assist to Israelis throughout the event. The diplomats left for Qatar on Wednesday.

Almost 4,000 Israeli and eight,000 Palestinian followers have an entry visa to Qatar for the event. The ministry expects as many as 20,000 Israelis might finally attend the World Cup.

“Soccer is one thing many Israelis see as important,” Hayat stated. “We’re preparing for the various Israelis who will present up, and at the very least a few of them who will want our assist.”

In the case of LGBTQ Israeli followers attending the event, the Overseas Ministry web site has curt recommendation: “Not in pubic.”

The web site additionally warns towards public drunkenness, which is unlawful in Qatar. Through the World Cup, alcohol can be out there solely in designated areas, comparable to lodges and particular “fan zones.”

The marketing campaign additionally provides tricks to Israelis struggling to seek out lodging due to the tight squeeze within the tiny emirate. It cautions towards bringing prohibited medicine, together with hashish, stepping into brawls and utilizing foul language — all which might have authorized repercussions in Qatar.

Israeli officers expressed hope {that a} optimistic, hassle-free Israeli presence in Qatar might advance Israel’s ambitions to additional combine into the area after the normalization offers with two of Doha’s Gulf Arab neighbors.

“We very a lot hope issues will go easily,” Haiat stated.


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