Israel mulls warning against travel to Qatar for World Cup
Israel's Counterterrorism Bureau may issue a warning to Israelis telling them not to travel to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup in November, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.
The Israel Hayom newspaper reported that around 15,000 Israelis had already bought tickets to the global football event.
Qatar has said that visitors from all countries around the world would be welcome as long as they had purchased tickets for at least one match. Around 25-30,000 Israelis in total are expected to attend, according to Israeli media.
Unlike some Arab countries, Qatar has not normalised relations with Israel and Israel currently advises citizens not to travel there except for essential business.
However, the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Bureau may raise the warning level from three to four, its highest possible, according to The Times of Israel.
Israel Hayom reported that Israeli officials are particularly worried about the presence of Iranians at the World Cup, with the Israeli National Security Council due to discuss the issue next week.
However, Israeli tourists and businesspeople have regularly visited the UAE, where many Iranian workers also reside since the two countries normalised relations in 2020.
An Israeli security source described the World Cup as a "complicated security challenge" in an interview with Israel Hayom, saying that Israel was not certain that Qatar would cooperate in providing security.
"So many Israelis are scheduled to be there - it’s something that has never happened in a state with which we have unstable relations, to say the least," he said.
Many Israelis with dual nationality are also expected to attend the World Cup using passports from other countries.
Nitzan Uriel, a former chief of the Israeli Counterterrorism Bureau, however, said that it was too early to issue warnings over travel to Qatar.
"I don't think the can give a warning [now] that will be relevant for the World Cup in November," he told Israel's Channel 12, saying that a warning should be considered nearer to the event, with possible refunds for Israelis who have bought tickets.