Qatar has put heavy pressure on the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group to keep quiet while the Gulf state hosts the World Cup, according to a Friday report.
The Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammad al-Emadi, told Hamas to maintain calm in the Strip through the end of the tournament, the Kan public broadcaster reported.
Al-Emadi was sent to Gaza at the start of World Cup and has since returned to Qatar, the report said. Qatar is a financial supporter of the Strip and has strong ties with Hamas.
The World Cup final is scheduled for December 18.
The Qataris also attempted to communicate the message to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a rival terror group in Gaza.
Israeli officials feared Gaza groups would launch rockets earlier this week after two senior terrorists were killed in clashes in the West Bank, including a top Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high after a series of deadly terror attacks against Israel in the past year and near-nightly IDF operations in the West Bank to crack down on threats.
Qatar has sought to put its best face forward on the world stage by hosting the World Cup, which would be complicated by violence from its partners in Gaza.
The oil-rich Gulf state has leverage in Gaza due to its financial support and relationship with Hamas.
Doha also has low-level ties with Israel, but the two countries do not share formal diplomatic relations.
With Israel’s approval, Qatar since 2018 has periodically provided millions of dollars in cash to Hamas to pay for fuel for the Strip’s power plant, fund infrastructure projects, pay government salaries and provide aid to tens of thousands of Gazan families.
Qatar has also played a part in negotiating ceasefires between Israel and Hamas that have restored calm after several major conflicts and countless smaller skirmishes.
Israeli participation in the Qatar World Cup has also been tense and marked by complications.
After long negotiations, Israel and Qatar reached an agreement for fans to fly from Israel to the Gulf state in the first direct flights between the two countries.
Israeli officials warned citizens to keep a low profile, and some fans said they had been accosted, badgered or worse. “The atmosphere toward us is hostile,” one Israeli spectator said.
Agencies contributed to this report.