Maldives to ban Israeli visitors in protest over Gaza war

Move comes amid rising public anger in the predominantly Muslim nation over the devastating conflict

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has announced a fundraising campaign called 'Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine'. AP
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The Maldives is to bar Israelis from the luxury tourist hot spot, the office of the President said on Sunday night, amid growing public anger over Israel's war in Gaza.

The Maldives, a country comprising more than 1,000 coral islets, is known for its secluded beaches, shallow lagoons and high-end resorts.

President Mohamed Muizzu has “resolved to impose a ban on Israeli passports”, a spokesman for his office said, without giving details of when the new law would take effect.

Mr Muizzu also announced a national fund-raising campaign called “Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine”. The Maldives lifted a previous order that barred Israeli tourists in the early 1990s and moved to restore relations in 2010.

But normalisation attempts were scuttled following the toppling of president Mohamed Nasheed in February 2012.

Opposition parties and government allies in the Maldives have been putting pressure on Mr Muizzu to bar Israeli visitors as a sign of protest against the Gaza war.

Official data showed the number of Israelis visiting the Maldives dropped to 528 in the first four months of this year, down 88 per cent from the corresponding period last year.

In response, an Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman urged citizens to avoid travel to the Maldives.

“For Israeli citizens staying in the country, it is recommended to consider leaving, since if they fall into distress for any reason, it will be difficult for us to help,” the spokesman said.

The Gaza war was sparked by Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,189 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 who the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed more than 36,400 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Palestinian enclave's Health Ministry.

Updated: June 03, 2024, 9:29 AM