Israel is warning its citizens heading to the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar to be vigilant and try to mask their Israeli identity out of concern for their security in the Muslim country.
Israel’s warning is part of a Foreign Ministry campaign, launched on Wednesday, to educate the nation’s soccer fans about the laws and customs in the conservative Muslim country.
The campaign calls on Israelis to hide any Israeli symbols, presumably a reference to Israeli flags and the Stars of David.
The campaign website, in Hebrew and Arabic, describes a potential minefield awaiting Israeli tourists who will find themselves in a country that criminalizes homosexuality, prohibits drugs, restricts alcohol consumption and has a tenuous relationship with the state of Israel.
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In addition, Israeli fans will also interact with fans of Iran, whose government for decades has denounced the existence of the state of Israel and launched proxy attacks against the country.
“The Iranian team will be at the World Cup, and we estimate that tens of thousands of fans will follow it, and there will be other fans from Gulf countries with whom we do not have diplomatic relations,” said Lior Haiat, a senior Israeli official. diplomatic.
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“Reduce your Israeli presence and your Israeli identity for the sake of your personal security,” Haiat said, addressing the Israeli fans.
Around 1.2 million international visitors are expected to visit Qatar’s World Cup tournament which begins on Sunday and Middle Eastern countries reached a landmark deal allowing Israelis without foreign passports to travel despite the lack of diplomatic ties.
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As part of the deal, Qatar will allow Israeli diplomats, through a private travel company, to provide consular support to the Israelis during the tournament. The diplomats left for Qatar on Wednesday.
Nearly 4,000 Israeli fans and 8,000 Palestinians have entry visas to Qatar for the tournament. The ministry hopes that up to 20,000 Israelis will eventually be able to attend the World Cup.
Associated Press contributed to this report.