Maldives Bans Israeli Passport Holders From Entering Tourist Hotspot Over Ongoing War

Maldives Bans Israeli Passport Holders From Entering Tourist Hotspot Over Ongoing War
People kayak in the sea off Hulhumale next to the capital city of Male, in the Maldives on Dec. 13, 2019. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

The Maldives will bar Israeli passport holders from entering the country as public anger in the predominantly Muslim nation rises over the war in Gaza.

In a statement on June 2, the office of President Mohamed Muizu said the cabinet has decided to amend existing laws to prevent Israelis from entering the tourist hotspot. A cabinet subcommittee will be established to oversee these efforts.

Mr. Muizu’s office added that it will also appoint a special envoy to assess Palestinian needs and set up a fundraising campaign.

The fundraiser will be launched with the help of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to conduct a nationwide rally under the slogan “Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine,” the president said.

The UNRWA, which employs some 13,000 people in Gaza, is the humanitarian assistance agency that recently faced allegations some of its staffers were involved in the Oct. 7, 2023, terror attack against Israel by Hamas, which triggered the current war. Hamas terrorists slaughtered about 1,200 people and took another 250 to Gaza as hostages during the attack.

The United Nation’s internal watchdog—the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)—is investigating the accusations after Israel alleged in January that more than a dozen UNRWA members were involved in the attack.

Israel Issues Travel Advisory

Following the news, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended its citizens avoid traveling to the Maldives. The recommendation also included Israelis holding dual citizenship.

“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 said in a statement.

The Maldives is a popular travel destination in the Indian Ocean known for its luxury resorts and secluded sandy white beaches. Annually, more than 1.5 million tourists visit the island nation.

A total of 528 Israel nationals have visited the Maldives in the first four months of this year, dropping from 4,644 during the same period in 2023, according to data by the Maldives government.

In addition to the Maldives, Israeli passport holders have also not been allowed to enter Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. These countries had already banned Israeli passport holders before the Israel-Hamas war.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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