JERUSALEM, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- The first-ever direct flight between Israel and Qatar took off on Sunday, said Cyprus' leading airline TUS Airways.
The flight is part of at least six round-trip flights that TUS Airways scheduled for flying Israeli and Palestinian fans during the 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar.
The flights were made possible after receiving approval from the governments of Israel and Qatar despite the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The first flight, between Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv and Hamad International Airport in Doha, carried 180 passengers.
"The very first non-stop flights between Tel Aviv and Doha not only allow thousands of football fans to attend the spectacular World Cup but also make history by operating the first commercial flight between Israel and Qatar," the airline said.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that it would also operate a consular office in Doha to handle the affairs of Israeli fans.
Israel and Qatar maintained economic ties until 2009 when the Israeli army launched an extensive military operation in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
Relations between the two countries were completely disconnected in 2011, as Israel decided to shut down its offices in Doha due to Qatar's support for the Palestinians.
However, a year ago, the governments of Israel and Qatar reached a diamond trade agreement, which allowed Israeli diamond traders to enter Qatar. ■