This week, Israel advises its nationals to hide their Israeli identity while attending the FIFA World Cup.
Fears of a humiliating diplomatic crisis between the nations with no official diplomatic relations have been heightened by the unusual influx of thousands of Israeli fans to Doha for the first World Cup in the Middle East.
The warning from Israel is a part of a Wednesday-launched campaign by the Foreign Ministry to inform the nation’s soccer supporters about the rules and practices of the strict Muslim nation.
The campaign’s website describes a possible minefield that awaits Israeli travelers in Qatar, a nation that criminalizes homosexuality, forbids narcotics, and regulates alcohol consumption.
Israeli tourists don’t have a reputation for being discreet.
Qataris have a history of supporting the Palestinian cause, just like many Gulf Arab residents, such as those in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which normalized relations with Israel in 2020.
A short, 40-minute flight from Iran will take fans and officials from Israel’s bitter adversary Iran to the event in Qatar, further complicating matters.
Israelis are urged by the campaign to conceal any symbols of Israel, most likely including Israeli flags and the Stars of David.
Lior Haiat, a senior Israeli diplomat, predicted that tens of thousands of fans from Gulf nations with whom Israel does not maintain diplomatic relations would watch the Iranian squad play in the World Cup.
For the sake of your safety, minimize your Israeli identification and presence, Haiat advised the Israeli supporters.
Israelis without foreign passports can now visit Qatar for the World Cup thanks to a historic agreement, despite the countries’ lack of diplomatic connections.
Last week, Qatar stated that it would even permit Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, whose ability to travel depends on Israeli government approval, to take direct flights from Tel Aviv to Doha.
As part of the arrangement, Qatar will allow Israeli officials to support Israelis throughout the competition by using a private travel agency.
On Wednesday, the diplomats departed for Qatar.
About 4,000 Israeli and 8,000 Palestinian spectators have visas for the tournament in Qatar.
The government estimates up to 20,000 Israelis may eventually watch the World Cup.
Hayat says, “Soccer is something that many Israelis view as crucial.” We are preparing for the many Israelis who will arrive and, at the very least, some of them who will require our assistance.
The Foreign Ministry website offers terse guidance for LGBTQ Israeli fans attending the tournament: “Not in public.”
The website also warns against public intoxication, which is forbidden in Qatar. Alcohol will only be sold in specific locations during the World Cup, such as hotels and designated “fan zones.”