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TUS flies Israeli fans to World Cup

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Israeli football fans can fly directly to Doha for World Cup games after Qatar approved the TUS Airways flights despite severed diplomatic ties.

Israel and FIFA said that Qatar had agreed to special direct flights but did not provide details.

Larnaca-based TUS Airways is offering six flights with a stopover in Cyprus.

TUS Airways received approval from the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority last week to operate six direct flights between Tel Aviv and Doha and six direct return flights.

It said the direct flights would not continue after the World Cup ends on 18 December.

TUS Airways is a subsidiary of Israel’s Knafaim Holdings Ltd.

Diplomatic sources said more than 10,000 Israeli and Palestinian fans had secured tickets for the 29-day tournament.

An Israeli diplomatic delegation has arrived in Doha to provide consular services during the World Cup.

Israel – which did not qualify for the World Cup — has warned its citizens to downplay their Israeli identity and hide Israeli symbols while in Qatar.

Qatar established trade relations with Israel in 1996, the first Gulf state to do so.

But in 2000, Israel’s trade office in Qatar was closed by authorities, and relations between the two countries were permanently severed in 2009 over a conflict between Israel and Gaza.

Doha supports Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza and has launched repeated conflicts with Israel since forcibly taking over the Strip in 2007.

Israeli officials have expressed hope that a positive, hassle-free Israeli presence in Qatar for the World Cup could advance Israel’s ambitions to further integrate into the region after the normalisation deals with two of Doha’s Gulf Arab neighbours.

Qatar has been critical of the 2020 US-brokered agreements known as the Abraham Accords, which saw Israel normalise relations with three Arab nations — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.