Israelis allowed first journey to Qatar for World Cup, but conflict with Palestinians catches up

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) — It was uncharted territory for the Israeli journalist. Wandering done the rustic outdoor marketplace successful Doha earlier the commencement of the World Cup, helium zeroed successful connected a Qatari antheral successful his accepted headdress and achromatic flowing robe and asked for an interview.

“Which channel?” the Qatari asked. The writer replied helium was from Kan, Israel’s nationalist broadcaster.

The Qatari was stunned. “Where?”

“Israel,” the writer repeated. A split-second later, the interrogation was over.

The speech ricocheted astir societal media, reflecting the latest governmental flash constituent astatine the archetypal World Cup successful the Arab satellite — ne'er caput that neither Israeli nor Palestinian nationalist teams are competing successful the tournament.

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Controversy has followed Israelis and Palestinians pouring into Doha, revealing conscionable however entrenched and emotive their convulsive century-old struggle remains, including Israel’s open-ended concern of lands Palestinians privation for a aboriginal state.

Palestinians shared footage of the Doha brushwood betwixt the Qatari antheral and the Israeli journalist, on with different clips of Palestinians and Qataris angrily confronting Israeli reporters unrecorded connected TV. They viewed it arsenic impervious that though Qatar has permitted Israelis to alert straight to Doha and person consular enactment for the archetypal clip successful history, the blimpish Muslim emirate has nary volition of cozying up to Israel.

Israel’s Channel 13 sports reporter, Tal Shorrer, said helium has been shoved, insulted and accosted by Palestinians and different Arab fans during his unrecorded reports from the tournament.

“You are sidesplitting babies!” a fewer Arab fans yelled arsenic they rammed into him during a broadcast this week.
Qatari media meantime has published immoderate specified videos with the caption: “No to normalization.”

Officials successful Qatar, with their past of nationalist enactment to Palestinians, person insisted the impermanent opening to Israelis was purely to comply with FIFA hosting requirements — not a measurement to normalizing ties similar neighboring Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates did successful 2020. Qatar has warned a spike successful unit successful the occupied West Bank oregon Gaza Strip would derail the arrangement.

Nonetheless, thousands of Israeli shot fans are expected to descend connected Doha for the World Cup, diplomats say, including immoderate connected 10 nonstop flights planned implicit the adjacent month.

Many Israeli fans marvel implicit the intriguing novelty of being successful a state that has nary diplomatic relations with Israel. Security-minded citizens remark however harmless they feel.

“My friends and household thought it could beryllium unsafe but it’s fine,” said Eli Agami, an aviation enforcement who lives adjacent Tel Aviv. “I don’t spell astir telling radical but I deliberation nary 1 cares if you’re Israeli oregon you’re Jewish. Everyone conscionable cares astir the game.”

Six Israeli diplomats person acceptable up store astatine a question bureau agency successful Doha, acceptable to respond to crises ample and small. To bounds imaginable problems, the Foreign Ministry has launched a run urging Israelis to prevarication low.

“We privation to debar immoderate friction with different fans and section authorities,” said Alon Lavie, a subordinate of the delegation, citing legions of fans from Iran, Saudi Arabia and different countries either hostile oregon frosty toward Israel present flooding Qatar. “We privation to punctual (Israelis) … you don’t request to shove your fingers successful different people’s eyes.”

Israelis person made themselves astatine location among Doha’s glittering skyscrapers. Qatar’s archetypal kosher room acceptable up adjacent the airport, supplying hotels and instrumentality zones with the classical eggy Jewish challah breadstuff and olive and hummus sandwiches. They program to navigator different nutrient for the Jewish Sabbath that starts Friday astatine sundown, with each ingredients conforming to kosher dietary laws.

“We person received many, galore questions and requests,” said Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, who oversees the effort.

Israel’s main channels person been allowed to broadcast from Doha, providing Israeli viewers with continuous sum of the matches. But dissimilar different large overseas networks centrally located successful downtown Doha, the Israelis roam astir without a ceremonial studio.

Shorrer said that portion interactions with Qatari officials had been perfectly pleasant, the streets were a antithetic story. He said helium advises Israeli fans to fell their Jewish kippas and ditch their Stars of David truthful arsenic not to provoke hostility. When a cellphone salesman noticed his friend’s settings successful Hebrew, helium exploded with anger, screaming astatine the Israeli to get retired of Doha.

“I was truthful excited to travel successful with an Israeli passport, reasoning it was going to beryllium thing positive,” helium said. “It’s sad, it’s unpleasant. People were cursing and threatening us.”

Palestinian fans from crossed the Arab satellite — including descendants of those who fled oregon were forced from their homes successful the 1948 warfare implicit Israel’s instauration — traipsed done the streets of Doha this week draped successful Palestinian flags. Some besides sported Palestinian armbands.

A radical of young Palestinians who unrecorded successful Doha chanted, “Free Palestine!” portion marching done Doha’s historical Souq Waqif marketplace connected Sunday.

“We privation everyone to cognize astir the concern and what radical acquisition successful Palestine truthful that much radical enactment us,” said 26-year-old marcher Sarah Shadid.

She laughed awkwardly erstwhile asked astir the influx of Israeli fans.

“I’m a small spot upset,” she said, adding she was definite their beingness was not Qatar’s choice. Doha mediates betwixt Israel and the Hamas militant radical and sends currency for the salaries of civilian servants successful the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

When FIFA announced the unprecedented nonstop flights from Ben Gurion International Airport successful Tel Aviv to Doha, Qatari authorities promised the question statement besides would use to Palestinians successful some the occupied West Bank and Gaza, which has been nether a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade for 15 years, ever since Hamas seized power there.

But 5 days into the tournament, it remained unclear however officials would transportation retired that promise.

A elder Israeli diplomat, Lior Haiat, said each Palestinian fans seeking to alert retired of Israel’s airdrome indispensable get Israeli information support to permission and instrumentality — an often-grueling and unpredictable process. “It takes a while,” helium acknowledged.

Imad Qaraqra, spokesperson of the Palestinian General Authority for Civil Affairs, said helium hadn’t heard of immoderate Palestinians requesting Israeli support to permission from Ben Gurion. Palestinians from the West Bank traveled to Qatar this week from Jordan’s airport, portion Palestinians successful Gaza exited into Egypt done the enclave’s Rafah borderline crossing.

Palestinian fans who made the agelong travel said they felt their attendance astatine the world’s biggest sporting lawsuit served a governmental purpose.

“I americium present arsenic a reminder that successful 2022, our onshore is inactive occupied,” said Moawya Maher, a 31-year-old businessman from Hebron, a peculiarly tense West Bank city. He was dancing astatine a performance astatine the FIFA Fan Festival, wearing a Palestinian emblem arsenic a cape. “I accidental it’s a miserable situation. But I’m besides proud.”