Israel urges soccer fans going to Qatar to keep low profile
Palestinian football fans at the World Cup in June. Israel insists it will never allow them to compete for the right to join the country’s teams in the 2022 finals. (Getty)
Israel’s security cabinet has called on Palestinian soccer fans heading to the World Cup in the region to stay away from border areas and avoid “provocative” protests, state media reported on Monday.
The cabinet approved a statement on Thursday that said Palestinian fans were “undermining” the country’s image in a bid to “drive the Palestinians into the arms of terror and other extremist organisations.” Palestinian officials said the demonstrations were not intended to bring violence to the border.
Israel’s army chief said last week that it would not allow any fans to travel to neighbouring Qatar and that their presence would “not be tolerated.” The Palestinian government said several thousand fans had already arrived in the country via Israel after crossing into the occupied West Bank. Some of them have also been detained for their alleged role in the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, as well as other events.
Palestinian news agency Maan reported that one of the group’s most vocal members, Nizar Qadhi, had just been released from prison in Egypt in September 2019. However, the state of Palestine has no information on whether he had travelled to Qatar.
“All attempts by Israel to prevent fans from traveling to Qatar will fail,” said a state-owned Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.
“The Palestinians are building their dream at the highest levels: to play a match in the finals at the biggest stadium in the world, not only in the best conditions, but in a peace-time state that will take care of them.”
The state of Qatar, hosts of the 2022 World Cup, said in a statement on Saturday that its security and diplomatic units “resolutely reject and condemn any