30,000 Israelis could make Qatar their goal

QATAR is hardly the first choice for Jews seeking a four-week break in the sunshine. But that has not stopped many thousands jetting in to the tiny Gulf state.

The reason, of course, is the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off on Sunday.

Visiting fans will include up to 30,000 Israelis whose love of football outweighs the dangers of travelling to an Arab nation hostile to their own.

“Do they realise how mad we are to travel to an enemy country to see a football tournament?” a message in Hebrew reads on an Israeli Facebook page dedicated to the World Cup.

It is one of hundreds of similar comments in the group of 9,000 members, which was specifically set up to help Israelis navigate the tournament in a country which has no diplomatic relations with their own.

And this is despite Israel failing to reach the finals... and not having done so since 1970.

They won't all be staying for a month, of course. In fact, many are heading there on two- or three-day trips.

Normally, Qatar would refuse to accept any non-stop flights from Israel. If anyone did want to undertake such a visit, they would have had to travel via a third country, such as Cyprus.

But intense negotiations led to Israel reaching an agreement with FIFA and Qatar to allow direct charter flights from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

This reduces a 10-hour journey to a mere three.

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