The Maldives has expressed ‘grave concern’ over the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and has called on Israel to end the illegal occupation of Palestine.

Hamas had launched a series of attacks on Israel on Saturday to which Israel responded with escalated attacks against Palestine, driving up the death toll on both sides to more than 300.

The government and the people of Maldives have always stood in solidarity with the government and the people of Palestine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on Saturday.

The MFA also “urged the full implementation of Security Council resolutions that have declared null and void the occupation of Palestine, and the annexation of the Holy City of Jerusalem.” The statement said that; “The Government of Maldives reiterate its position that a lasting peace in the Middle East can only be achieved through a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.”

President-elect Mohamed Muizzu had, before the MFA statement, posted to social media in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“Israel should end the illegal occupation of Palestine immediately and return the lands forcefully seized from Palestinians. Israel should recognize Palestine as an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital within 1967 borders and allow the immediate return of refugees,” Muizzu had said with Speaker Mohamed Nasheed reposting the president-elect’s words with the headline “I completely agree with the President-Elect”.

Meanwhile, outgoing President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, posting for the first time since congratulating Muizzu on his election win – and hours after the MFA statement – was the first Maldivian leader to outright condemn Israeli actions.

“Maldives remains in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to dignity and self-determination. We condemn Israel’s disproportionate use of force on defenceless Palestinian communities and renew our call for a two-state solution that ensures peace for all,” Solih said.

The recent attacks by Hamas on Israel has been one of their boldest in recent history.