The first-ever direct commercial flight between Israel and Qatar departed on Sunday morning, bringing some 180 Israeli and Palestinian soccer fans to the World Cup.

The aircraft was operated by Cyprus-based TUS Airways, a subsidiary of Israel’s Knafaim Holdings Ltd.

The carrier will operate six round-trip flights between Tel Aviv and Doha during the World Cup, which kicks off on Sunday and concludes on Dec. 18.

FIFA earlier this month announced that an agreement had been reached for the flights, in accordance with Qatar’s pledge to meet the tournament’s hosting requirements despite having no formal diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

“Direct charter flights will be temporarily operated between Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and Hamad International Airport in Doha by an airline with existing landing rights in Qatar for the duration of the FIFA World Cup, subject to Israel’s security requirements and operational capabilities,” stated FIFA.

Israel has also sent diplomats to Qatar to help citizens address their needs while attending the World Cup.

More than 10,000 Israelis and Palestinians have secured tickets for the tournament, according to media reports.

Israelis were warned last week to avoid standing out in Qatar.

“The Iranian team will be in the World Cup and we estimate that tens of thousands of fans will follow it, and there will be other fans from Gulf countries that we don’t have a diplomatic relationship with,” said Lior Haiat, head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Downplay your Israeli presence and Israeli identity for the sake of your personal security,” Haiat said, addressing the Israeli fans.

Israel’s warning is part of a Foreign Ministry campaign launched on Wednesday to educate the nation’s soccer fans about the conservative Muslim country’s laws and customs.

JNS

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