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Maldives bans Israeli tourists in solidarity with Palestine

The Maldives will prohibit entry to Israelis, the office of President Mohamed Muizzu announced Sunday, in a move demonstrating solidarity with Palestine.

The Maldives, renowned for its over 1,000 coral islets with pristine white beaches and turquoise lagoons, is a favored luxury tourist destination.

President Muizzu has “resolved to impose a ban on Israeli passports,” a spokesperson said, without specifying when the ban would be implemented.

In addition, Muizzu introduced a national fundraising campaign, “Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine.”

Previously, the Maldives had lifted a ban on Israeli tourists in the early 1990s and reestablished diplomatic relations in 2010. However, these efforts were halted following the ousting of President Mohamed Nasheed in February 2012.

Political pressures from opposition parties and government allies have influenced Muizzu to impose the ban as a protest against the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Official data indicates that Israeli tourist visits to the Maldives dropped to 528 in the first four months of this year, an 88 percent decrease from the same period last year.

In response to the ban, an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson advised citizens to avoid traveling to the Maldives. “For Israeli citizens currently in the country, it is recommended to consider leaving, as assistance may be difficult if they encounter any issues,” the spokesperson added.

The Gaza conflict escalated following Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, resulting in 1,189 Israeli casualties, mostly civilians, and the taking of 252 hostages, with 121 still held in Gaza, including 37 confirmed dead. Israel’s retaliatory strikes have caused at least 36,439 deaths in Gaza, primarily civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.

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