Israeli-Palestinian conflict catches up with Qatar World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The area was unknown to the Israeli journalist. Wandering through a village open-air market in Doha before the start of the World Cup, he stopped a Qatari man in his traditional headscarf and flowing white robe and asked for an interview.

“Which channel?” Qatari asked. The journalist replied that he was from Cannes, Israel Public Broadcasting.

Qatari was stunned. “Where?”

The journalist repeated: Israel. A few seconds later, the interview ended.

The exchange went viral on social media and reflected the latest political flashpoint in the Arab world’s first World Cup – never mind that the Israeli and Palestinian national teams are not taking part in the tournament.

Controversy has followed the influx of Israelis and Palestinians into Doha, showing just how deep-rooted and sensitive their centuries-old violent conflict is.Including Israel’s occupation of the lands that the Palestinians want to create a state in the future.

The Palestinians shared footage of the confrontation in Doha between the Qatari man and the Israeli journalist, along with other clips of Palestinians and Qataris angrily confronting Israeli reporters live on television. They saw this as the reason why although Qatar allowed Israelis to fly directly to Doha and receive consular support. For the first time in its history, the conservative Muslim Emirate has no intention of cozying up to Israel.

Israeli Channel 13 sports reporter Tal Schorer said he was mobbed, insulted and insulted by Palestinians and other Arab fans during his live coverage of the tournament.

“You’re killing babies!” Several Arab fans shouted when they bumped into him during this week’s broadcast.

At the same time, Qatari media have published such videos under the title “No to normalization”. Qatari officials, with a history of public support for the Palestinians, insist the temporary opening to the Israelis was merely to meet FIFA’s hosting requirements – not a step towards normalizing relations like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates did in 2020.. Qatar has warned that an increase in violence in the occupied West Bank or the Gaza Strip will derail the agreement.

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Still, thousands of Israeli soccer fans are expected to travel to Doha for the World Cup, including some on 10 direct flights planned over the next month, diplomats say.

Many Israeli fans are surprised by the fascinating novelty of being in a country that has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Citizens who think about security state how safe they feel.

“My friends and family thought it could be dangerous, but it’s good,” said Eli Agami, an aviation executive who lives near Tel Aviv. I don’t tell people, but I don’t think anyone cares if you’re Israeli or Jewish. “Everyone just cares about the game.”

Six Israeli diplomats have set up offices in a travel agency office in Doha to respond to crises large and small. To limit potential problems, the State Department has launched a campaign asking Israelis to lie.

Alon Lavi, one of the members of the delegation, said, “We want to avoid any friction with other fans and authorities, pointing out that the legions of fans from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries, hostile or confused towards Israel, have now flooded Qatar. prevent local We want to remind (Israelis) that you don’t need to stick your fingers in other people’s eyes.

Israelis have made themselves at home among the glittering skyscrapers of Doha. Qatar’s first kosher kitchen opened near the airport, serving hotels and fan zones with classic egg-chello Jewish bread and olive and hummus sandwiches. They plan to cook another meal for the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday, with all the ingredients complying with kosher dietary laws.

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“We have received many questions and requests,” said Rabbi Mandy Chittrick, who oversees the effort.

Major Israeli channels have received permission to broadcast from Doha, providing Israeli viewers with continuous coverage of the tournament. But unlike other major foreign networks located in downtown Doha, the Israelis roam around without an official studio.

Schorer said that while the interaction with Qatari officials had been entirely pleasant, the streets were a different story. He said he advised Israeli fans to hide their Jewish kippahs and put away their Stars of David so as not to incite hostility. When a mobile phone salesman noticed his friend’s settings in Hebrew, he exploded with anger and shouted at the Israeli to get out of Doha.

“I was very excited to arrive with an Israeli passport, I thought it was a positive thing,” he said. It’s sad, it’s unpleasant. “People cursed and threatened us.”

Palestinian supporters from across the Arab world – including descendants of those who fled or were forced from their homes in the 1948 war to create Israel – have lined the streets of Doha this week, draped in Palestinian flags. Some also had Palestinian armbands.

A group of Palestinian youth living in Doha chanted “Free Palestine!” they nodded While they were marching in the historic Souq Waqif market of Doha on Sunday.

“We want everyone to know about the occupation and the experience of people in Palestine so that more people will support us,” said Sarah Shadid, a 26-year-old marcher.

When asked about the influx of Israeli fans, he laughed awkwardly.

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“I’m a little sad,” he said, adding that he was sure their presence was not Qatar’s choice. Doha mediates between Israel and the militant group Hamas, sending cash for the salaries of civil servants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

When FIFA announced unprecedented direct flights from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport to Doha, Qatari officials vowed that the travel arrangements would improve travel arrangements for Palestinians in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for 15 years. And Egypt is going to be applied. years, since Hamas took control there.

But five days into the tournament, it was unclear how officials would enforce that assumption.

All Palestinian supporters seeking to fly out of an Israeli airport must obtain Israeli security clearance to leave and return — a process that is often cumbersome and unpredictable, said Liv Hayat, a senior Israeli diplomat. “It’s going to take a while,” he admitted.

Emad Qara Qara, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority for Civil Affairs, said he had not heard of Palestinians asking Ben-Gurion for permission to leave Israel. Palestinians from the West Bank traveled to Qatar this week from a Jordanian airport, while Palestinians from Gaza entered Egypt through the Rafah border crossing.

Palestinian fans who made the long journey said they felt their attendance at the world’s biggest sporting event was a political one.

“I’m here to remind you that in 2022, our land is still occupied,” said Muawiyah Maher, a 31-year-old businessman from Hebron, a city specifically in the West Bank. He was dancing in a concert at the FIFA Fan Festival with the Palestinian flag as a cape. “I think the situation is dire. But I am also proud.”


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