Maldivians gathered at the Artificial Beach area in Malé on Friday to protest against Israel’s ongoing attacks on Gaza, particularly on the southern city of Rafah, and to demand an immediate ceasefire in the enclave. The rally, a collaborative effort by local civil society organisation Isra Association, was held under the banner ‘Rafah is Burning.’

The Maldives has consistently stood against Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian Territories, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This stance has gained increasing significance since 7 October 2023, when Israeli forces launched a major military offensive against Gaza, which has drawn international condemnation for its brutality and high civilian death toll.

The Maldives has consistently voiced its opposition to Israel’s aggression in Gaza and has advocated for Palestinian rights on various international platforms.

In a recent interview with the public service broadcaster, the Palestinian Ambassador to the Maldives, Walid Abu Ali, praised the Maldives for its staunch support of the Palestinian cause. He highlighted the Maldives’ efforts to raise Palestine’s voice at the United Nations, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the International Criminal Court (ICC), among other international platforms.

“We are proud of what [President] Muizzu and the Maldivian people are doing for the people of Palestine,” Ambassador Ali expressed. “He has personally been actively advocating on the matter on social media, condemning [Israel’s] actions in Gaza and Rafah. I wholeheartedly support President Muizzu’s efforts.”

However, the Muizzu administration has recently come under public criticism for dragging its feet on imposing a Parliament-recommended ban on the entry of Israeli passport holders. Despite a resolution passed by the 19th parliament on 1 April, calling for a ban on Israeli citizens and goods manufactured in Israel, the government has yet to act on the matter.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Heena Waleed, the administration’s chief spokesperson, sidestepped repeated questions on the issue. Instead, she pointed to the Maldives’ continued advocacy for Palestinian rights on the global stage.

“Given the substantial contributions the Maldives has made to advancing Palestinian rights on the international stage, I am convinced that no other nation has demonstrated the same level of commitment to the Palestinian cause as the Maldives,” Waleed had said.

The parliament’s resolution, prompted by Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza, demanded an immediate suspension of all relations between the Maldives and Israel. On 16 November 2023, the 19th parliament sent a letter to President Muizzu recommending the cessation of entry permissions for Israeli passport holders.