The US Embassy in Qatar hosted a Hanukkah reception on Tuesday that was attended by Israeli diplomats temporarily based in Qatar for the soccer World Cup.
US Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis led a candle-lighting ceremony attended by other foreign diplomats, members of the Jewish community in Qatar and several Chabad emissaries, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.
Davis told guests he had learned about the importance of the holiday when he served alongside Jewish soldiers in the Marines and was excited to be able to host Tuesday’s event, the Foreign Ministry said.
Iris Ambor, who has been heading the temporary Israeli mission in Qatar that provided consular services to Israelis in town for the World Cup, presented Davis with a “Hanukkah in Qatar” t-shirt that was produced especially for the event.
According to FIFA, 4,500 fans who attended the World Cup registered their nationality as Israeli. However, the Foreign Ministry’s own assessment suggested that around the same number entered Qatar using a non-Israeli passport, wary of potential security risks, bringing the number of Israeli fans to as many as 10,000.
Though they do not have official ties, Jerusalem engages with Doha in order to facilitate the distribution of Qatari aid to the Gaza Strip.
Qatar hosted an Israeli trade office during the 1990s that was shuttered during the Second Intifada.
Due to the lack of diplomatic relations, a special agreement between FIFA, Israel and Qatar was reached before the World Cup to allow the Israeli diplomats to arrive and assist Israelis traveling for the tournament.
Ash Obel contributed to this report