Maldives warns forced evacuation of Gaza civilians amounts to a war crime

Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Hayyan)

The Maldivian government has strongly condemned the ultimatum issued by the Israeli military that 1.2 million civilians in northern Gaza relocate to its south within 24 hours, stating that absent of any guarantees of safety or return, it would amount to a war crime.

In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Friday night, the Maldivian government called on Israel to reverse its call for the evacuation of half of Gaza's population.

“The Israeli military demand that 1.2 million civilians in northern Gaza relocate to its south within 24 hours. Absent of any guarantees of safety or return this would amount to the war crime of forcible transfer. It must be reversed,” said the Foreign Ministry.

The Maldivian government expressed deep concern over the ongoing Israeli military aggression against innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip.

It noted that indiscriminate attacks are already claiming the lives of hundreds of innocent civilian Palestinians, including women and children, and wounding thousands more.

The attacks have further destroyed critical infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, United Nations facilities, residential buildings, and places of worship.

“The Government of the Republic of Maldives considers these deliberate acts of aggression against the innocent civilian population of Palestine a blatant disregard and violation of international humanitarian law, tantamount to a war crime,” said the Foreign Ministry.

The Maldives called on the international community to use all possible measures to stop the ongoing inhumane attacks against the innocent civilians in Palestine, and to ensure the opening of humanitarian corridors to facilitate the urgent delivery of medicines, food supplies and basic needs to the Gaza Strip.

“The government and people of Maldives reiterate their commitment and unconditional support to the Palestinian people in their legitimate pursuit to attain their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination,” said the Foreign Ministry.

The Maldivian government said it believes that a lasting and sustainable solution to the conflict, can only be possible through the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The evacuation order, which comes on the seventh day of a war and “total blockade” declared by Israel following an unprecedented Hamas incursion and deadly attack, directs residents of Gaza City to flee deeper south into the Gaza Strip, a narrow coastal territory that is home to about 2.3 million people – half of them children.

More than 1,900 people – about half of them children and women – have been killed in relentless Israeli bombardment on Gaza since Hamas attacked Israel October 7, in a surprise operation that killed more than 1,300 people in Israel.

Many Palestinians fear a repeat of the most traumatic event in their tortured history, their mass exodus from what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation.