Israeli tourists have had to be evacuated from Maldives, following various actions and protests regarding the conflict in Gaza.

THULUSDHOO – Last week an Israeli surfer tourist teared down a placard and snapped it into two as unrest occurred. Following this, 34 tourists were evacuated, with 30 of them being Israeli.

The placard was pinned on a coconut tree, and showed Nazi Swastika combined with the Israeli flag, which symbolises a comparison between Israel and the Nazi regime from the World War II.

The majority population in Maldives are Muslims, and the on-going conflict between Israel and Palestine was reflected in this situation. As news spread of the placard incident, locals became upset and tension was increased in the area.

Managing Director of the Batuta Maldives Surf View Mohamed Hashim noticed the tension among the locals and decided to inform the Island Concil President Ahmed Anees who subsequently contacted the police.

Afterwards, Police intelligence revealed that other agitated people were travelling to the island, to support a removal of the Israeli tourists. The security services in Maldives decided then to evacuate the tourists. 30 protesters travelled to Thulusdhoo from Malé but were detained upon arrival.

“There have been no problems since we opened two years ago. Tourists are always very friendly with locals,” said Hashim who told that around 60 percent of his bookings came from Israelis.

“It is a calm island. Only a few people were involved in this thing,” said Hashim who suggested that outsiders from Malé had stirred up the unrest.

After the incident a small vocal protest followed in the capital Malé, where some protesters burned the Israeli Flag. Small demonstrations had been held all over the country.

Earlier this month, a huge march with an estimated 13,000 people were walking and demonstrating in Malé in solidarity with the Palestinians. Maldives has a very anti-Israeli sentiment, and want the bloodshed in Gaza to stop.

The government announced last week that Maldives was boycotting all Israeli products. Last week Maldives also supported 28 other member states at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

These states are calling for an independent inquiry of Israel’s violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in Palestine.

“I do not think Maldivians want any help from Israel or want to keep up relations with Israel,” said Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon.

The citizens of Maldives are also eager to contribute. They have donated MVR2million (US $130,000) to the Gaza Fund. This amount will be distributed via the Qatari Red Crescent after August 17.

Rikke Cathrine, Correspondent (Asia: South)

Image Courtesy: Giorgio Montersino, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic | Wikimedia Commons