Israel issues 'safety warnings' for nationals travelling to Qatar after World Cup media snubs

Israel issues 'safety warnings' for nationals travelling to Qatar after World Cup media snubs
The tournament in Qatar was dubbed the 'World Cup of Hate' by one Israeli newspaper after journalists from the country were widely blacklisted by fans.
3 min read
28 November, 2022
Israeli fans have been able to travel freely to attend the tournament [Getty images]

Israel has issued fresh safety warnings to nationals travelling to Qatar for the World Cup, citing a "hostile atmosphere" at the host nation despite no reported incidents of violence or mistreatment against the 30,000 Israeli fans present in the Gulf state.

The latest travel advice included not speaking Hebrew in public places or displaying obvious Israeli symbols, following a snub of Israeli journalists by members of the public. 

Qatar has been given a 'level 3 warning' by the Israeli foreign ministry - one below Lebanon, Syria and Iraq - while no concrete travel ban has yet been implemented.

Israeli journalists have been allowed to report freely from the World Cup, and the first direct flights from Tel Aviv to Qatar took off just before the tournament began, in line with commitments to FIFA. 

But Israeli reporters have appeared bewildered by the overwhelming messages of solidarity with Palestinians and widespread refusal to engage with their coverage. 

After Morocco's victory over Belgium, one Israeli pundit pleaded that "we have a peace agreement with you" as Moroccan fans walked away from an interview, voicing support for Palestine.

Israel recently signed normalisation agreements with the governments of the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, although the treaties appear to be hugely unpopular with these populations.

Raz Shechnik, a reporter for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, tweeted: "We journalists are not the story. But it's impossible not to share what we've been going through. We feel hated, surrounded.

"We're not having fun, far from it. In the street we are accompanied by Palestinians, Iranians, Qataris, Moroccans, Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians."

Today’s Yedioth Ahronoth headline dubbed the tournament a "World Cup of Hate" owning to the snubs of Israeli journalists, which appeared to have surprised many in Israel despite overwhelming support in the Arab world for the Palestinian cause. 

"Polls show that Arabs still overwhelmingly support the Palestinian struggle despite the treachery of their governments," said Palestinian academic Dr. Yara Harawi.

 "Beyond the region people worldwide continue to support Palestinians & voice their opposition to the Israeli regime's crimes."

Complaints by Israeli media over alleged "mistreatment" at the World Cup come against a backdrop of systematic violence against Palestinian journalists - and civilians - for several years. 

Palestinian journalist Sabri Jibril was detained by Israeli forces in Bethlehem on Sunday night, and his home was raided. 

Several international investigations have also concluded that veteran reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was deliberately killed by an Israeli sniper while covering a raid in the occupied West Bank. 

In September, Israeli forces beat and detained media worker Yusef Adi at the Al-Aqsa mosque without provocation, kneeling on the journalist's neck and breaking his nose.