Although Qatar supports Palestine, an August 2022 video is being shared to claim the country is making a statement during the ongoing world cup.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off on November 20 in Qatar, the first-ever world cup held in an Arab country. A video showing a building lit with the words “Gaza is in our hearts” in Arabic (غزة في قلوبنا) was viral on social media with the caption “Seen in Qatar; a light-up message appears at a building during the FIFA World Cup.” However, this is not related to the ongoing world cup.
FIFA has cut a deal with Qatar to permit Israelis and Palestinians to attend 2022 FIFA World Cup on special charter flights from Tel Aviv “to improve relations across the Middle East.” Qatar, which has no relations with Israel and supports the Palestinian cause for statehood, insisted that Palestinians be allowed to travel with Israelis as a condition for allowing direct flights. Many encounters between both countries’ journalists and fans have gone viral on social media. Neither the Israel national football team nor Palestine national football team participated in the 2022 FIFA tournament.
On conducting a reverse image search and applying keywords like “Qatar” and “Gaza is in our hearts,” we found the video was from August 2022. Qatar-based Doha News tweeted the viral video on August 9, 2022, captioning, “The Al Jaber Twin towers in Lusail Marina light up with the Palestinian flag and a message that reads ‘Gaza in our hearts.’ What’s your message for Palestine?” Middle East Monitor (MEMO), on August 10, 2022, similarly reported an article with the headline “Qatar’s Al-Jabir Towers light up with Palestinian flag” and published the image of the building with the tag. It stated Al-Jabir Towers in the Lusail City area in the Qatari capital Doha was illuminated in “solidarity with Gaza” following a three-day Israeli attack.
Reliefweb, a service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on August 7 reported that Israeli forces conducted a military attack on the Gaza strip for three days starting from August 6. Around 31 Palestinians died, and about 228 were injured.
Fans have routinely been spotted holding Palestinian flags during the tournament. Guardian found before the opening match on November 20 that a group of Qatari men were holding a Palestinian flag and chanting “Everyone is welcome” while walking into the Al Bayt Stadium. They added, “Fans from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Algeria have also carried Palestinian flags prominently at matches and worn them as capes around their necks.
Associated Press reported that Palestinians had shared clips and footage of Israeli journalists encountering Qatari people and confronted by Qataris and Palestinians in another video. Israeli reporters have been confronted or heckled during live reporting. AP added, “Palestinian fans who made the long journey said they felt their attendance at the world’s biggest sporting event served a political purpose.”
Qatar’s support for Palestine following Israel’s August 2022 attack is being misattributed to the FIFA World Cup. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.