Israel advises citizens to avoid travel to Maldives, asks to visit Indian beaches

This comes following the Maldives' decision on Sunday to ban the entry of individuals with Israeli passports.
Lakshadweep islands
Lakshadweep islands

JERUSALEM: Israel has advised its citizens, including those holding an additional foreign passport, to avoid travelling to the Maldives and asked those staying there to leave the Indian Ocean archipelago, a day after the Maldivian government decided to ban Israeli passport holders from entering the country amidst the deadly war in Gaza.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry made the recommendations on Sunday in view of the Maldivian government's decision to make the legal amendments necessary to ban entry into the Maldives on Israeli passports as soon as possible.

"The recommendation is also valid for Israeli citizens holding a foreign passport, in addition to the Israeli passport," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"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," it added.

While the Maldivian cabinet decided to ban Israeli passports, the actual implementation of the decision will require legal reforms.

Maldives receives more than one million tourists each year.

About 10,966 Israeli tourists visited the Maldives in 2023, while 15,748 Israelis travelled to the country in 2023.

Israel issued a travel warning in December urging its citizens against visiting the Maldives, citing increased anti-Israel sentiment during the war with Hamas.

Israel does not have diplomatic ties with the Muslim-majority nation after they were suspended in 1974.

However, Israelis have been allowed to visit the country famed for its islands since diplomatic dialogue to normalise ties between the two started more than a decade ago, but have not succeeded despite at times looking "promising".

The Maldivian cabinet on Sunday also decided to appoint a special presidential envoy to identify the areas in which Palestine requires support from the Maldives and organise fundraising events to assist Palestinians through the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

The Gaza conflict began on October 7 after Hamas initiated an attack on Israel, killing over 800 and capturing 240 hostages, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel launched a massive counter-offensive against the Palestinian militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007.

More than 36,000 people, including women and children, have been killed in Gaza in Israel's action, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

Following the Maldives' decision to ban Israeli passport holders from entering the country, the Israeli Embassy in India has responded by suggesting alternative destinations for Israeli tourists. In a recent post on their social media platform, the embassy showcased a selection of stunning Indian beaches where Israeli visitors are welcomed.

Israeli Consul General in Mumbai, Kobbi Shoshani, has responded to a January post by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which PM Modi praised the natural beauty of Lakshadweep. Shoshani commented, "Thanks to the Maldives Government's decision Israelis can now explore the beautiful beaches of Lakshadweep."

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The New Indian Express