TEL AVIV: Balloons festooned the departure gate for the first commercial flight between Israel and Qatar on Sunday, permitted by Doha for World Cup fans despite a lack of formal bilateral relations.

While the excitement was mainly at being able to attend the soccer tournament, for which Israel did not qualify, with such surprising ease several passengers voiced hope that the non-stop flights would clear the way to fuller detente with Qatar.

They were issued contact cards for a discreet Israeli consular delegation sent ahead to provide emergency support, a reminder of their current semi-recognised status in Qatar, which is close to Iran and has hosted leaders of Palestinian Hamas.

“There were a few concerns, I cannot deny that,” said Sagi Ashkevitz, flying with three friends to his second World Cup.

“But in the end, the idea of watching (Lionel) Messi for the last time, together with the idea that we are actually making history, overcame all of the concerns,” Ashkevitz added.

At least 10,000 Israelis are expected at the month-long matches, most of them coming through third countries. Those boarding the TUS Airways plane at Ben Gurion Airport were originally told they would have a brief stopover in Cyprus.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

A grave tragedy
Updated 08 Feb, 2023

A grave tragedy

It is hoped that Pakistan continues to send as many personnel and relief goods as needed to Turkiye, Syria.
Pharma shutdown
08 Feb, 2023

Pharma shutdown

IN the midst of an economic and political maelstrom, a fresh crisis threatens the availability of drugs in the...
PSL season
Updated 08 Feb, 2023

PSL season

PSL has provided a launching pad for several of the team’s current stars, and for them, hitting top form will be key.
No pardon for rape
Updated 07 Feb, 2023

No pardon for rape

Cultural filters and biases can often lead to faulty applications of the law.
Health insurance
07 Feb, 2023

Health insurance

THE planning ministry is reported to have raised objections to Punjab’s flagship universal health coverage...
The people’s demands
07 Feb, 2023

The people’s demands

AS the people of KP are literally on the frontline of the battle against terrorism and violent extremism, they are...