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Maldives Bans Entry of Israeli Nationals Amid Gaza Conflict; Israel Advises Citizens to Leave

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In a significant diplomatic move, the Maldives has announced a ban on Israeli nationals entering the country amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

This decision by the Indian Ocean archipelago has prompted the Israeli government to advise its citizens to leave the Maldives and avoid traveling there.

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The move marks a notable escalation in the Maldives’ stance towards Israel, reflecting the heightened tensions and global ramifications of the Gaza war.

Maldives Government’s Decision

On Sunday, the Maldivian government, led by President Mohamed Muizzu, declared that it would be changing its laws to prevent Israeli passport holders from entering the nation.

The announcement included plans to establish a subcommittee to oversee the implementation of this new policy, appoint a special envoy to assess Palestinian needs, and launch a fundraising campaign in support of Palestine.

Israel’s Response

In response to this announcement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement advising Israeli nationals, including those holding dual citizenship, against traveling to the Maldives.

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The ministry also recommended that Israelis currently in the Maldives consider leaving the country due to potential difficulties in receiving consular assistance in case of distress.

“For Israeli citizens already in the country, it is recommended to consider leaving because if they find themselves in distress for any reason, it will be difficult for us to assist,” the ministry’s statement read.

Tourism Statistics and Impact

The Maldives has been a popular destination for Israeli tourists, with nearly 11,000 Israelis visiting the islands last year, accounting for 0.6% of the total tourist arrivals.

However, there has been a noticeable decline in Israeli visitors this year, with only 528 visiting in the first four months of 2024 compared to 4,644 during the same period in 2023.

This decline is likely influenced by the ongoing conflict and the growing anti-Israel sentiment in the region.

Historical Context

The diplomatic ties between Israel and the Maldives were suspended in 1974, and despite the absence of formal relations, Israelis were allowed to visit the Maldives after the ban on Israeli tourists was lifted in the 1990s.

However, recent events and the Maldives’ latest decision mark a significant shift in this dynamic.

In December, Israel had already warned its citizens against visiting the Maldives due to “increased anti-Israel sentiment” following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offensive on Gaza.

Alternative Destinations for Israeli Tourists

In light of the new ban, Israeli authorities have suggested alternative destinations for their citizens. Kobbi Shoshani, the Consul General of Israel to Mumbai, took to social media to promote India’s Lakshadweep islands as an alternative.

“Thanks to the Maldives Government’s decision, Israelis can now explore the beautiful beaches of Lakshadweep,” Shoshani wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

An X account dedicated to promoting Israel-India ties also shared suggestions of beautiful Indian beaches where Israeli tourists are warmly welcomed.

Broader Implications

The decision by the Maldives government comes amid heightened global tensions following the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, which left approximately 1,200 people dead, mostly civilians.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza, intensifying the conflict and drawing international attention.

The Maldivian government’s decision to ban Israeli nationals and support Palestinian needs is part of a broader pattern of international reactions to the conflict.

Many countries and international organizations have expressed varying degrees of support for either side, reflecting the complex and deeply rooted nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Humanitarian Concerns

The conflict has resulted in significant humanitarian concerns, with both Israeli and Palestinian casualties. The discovery of the body of Dolev Yehud, a presumed hostage, in a community near the Gaza border underscores the tragic human toll of the conflict.

Yehud, 35, was believed to be among the hostages taken by Hamas militants during their October 7 attack. The Israeli military’s announcement of finding his body highlights the ongoing search for hostages and the brutal realities of the conflict.

Conclusion

The Maldives’ decision to ban Israeli nationals and the subsequent advisory from the Israeli government for its citizens to leave the archipelago are indicative of the broader international repercussions of the Gaza conflict.

As the situation in Gaza continues to evolve, countries around the world are reassessing their positions and policies regarding the conflict and its participants.

For Israelis, this means finding new destinations for travel and navigating the complex and shifting landscape of international relations.

The humanitarian impact remains a critical concern, with both sides experiencing significant losses and the international community grappling with how to respond effectively.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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