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Maldives Imposes Ban on Israeli Tourists Amid Gaza Crisis

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Expressing solidarity with Palestinians amid the escalating violence in Gaza, the Maldives government has announced a ban on Israeli passport holders from entering the Indian Ocean archipelago nation. The decision, endorsed by President Mohamed Muizzu and the Cabinet, comes as public anger mounts over the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

According to a statement from the President’s office, necessary legal amendments will be made to prevent Israeli citizens from traveling to the Maldives, known for its luxury resorts and pristine beaches. Additionally, a special cabinet subcommittee will be established to oversee the implementation of the ban.

President Muizzu has also announced plans to appoint a special envoy to assess the humanitarian needs of Palestinians in Gaza and launch a national fundraising campaign called “Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine.”

The Maldives’ move to restrict Israeli tourists also follows growing public pressure on the government to take a firm stance against the violence in Gaza. Opposition parties and government allies have been vocal in their calls for a ban on Israeli visitors as a sign of protest against the ongoing conflict.

While the Maldives had previously lifted a ban on Israeli tourists in the early 1990s and attempted to restore relations in 2010, these efforts were halted following the political turmoil that led to the toppling of former President Mohamed Nasheed in 2012.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has responded by recommending that its citizens, including those with dual citizenship, avoid traveling to the Maldives for the time being. The ministry has also advised Israelis currently in the Maldives to consider leaving, citing potential difficulties in providing assistance if they encounter any distress.

According to NBC News, nearly 11,000 Israelis visited the Maldives in 2022, accounting for 0.6% of total tourist arrivals. However, in the first four months of this year, the number of Israeli visitors dropped by 88% compared to the same period last year, potentially reflecting the growing tensions.

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