Maldives media raise nearly $2 million for Gaza victims

10 media outlets, including online and print, participated in a 36-hour telethon

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Media outlets in the Maldives have raised nearly $2 million to help Gaza residents affected by massive destruction caused in the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, a fundraising organiser said Saturday.

“About 10 media institutions, including on-line and print, came together to raise this money,” spokesman Ahmed Zahir said by telephone from Male, the capital of the Sunni Muslim archipelago.

Maldives, a high-end holiday destination in the Indian Ocean, has expressed solidarity with Gaza, whose economy is expected to take years to recover from Israeli shelling and air strikes.

Male has imposed a ban on Israeli-made goods and last month revoked three cooperation agreements on health, tourism and education.

Zahir said $1.91 million was given this week to the Qatar Red Crescent to supply food and water and help victims recover from the widespread destruction caused in the latest fighting.

The money was raised through a 36-hour telethon as well as through other public contributions from state as well as privately-owned companies.

The seven-week conflict claimed the lives of 2,143 Palestinians, more than 70 percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations, and 65 soldiers and six civilians on the Israeli side.

There has also been hostility among residents of the Maldives, which has a population of around 330,000 people, to Israeli tourists.

Last month, Israeli holidaymakers were evacuated from their Maldivian resort after one tore up an anti-Israeli placard equating the Nazi swastika to the Israeli flag.

Some 30 Israeli surfers were moved out to safety from Thulusdhoo island, near the capital island Male, as residents of the archipelago protested the pulling down of the anti-Israeli placards.

The Maldives, known for pristine beaches and secluded coral islands popular with honeymooners, attracted over a million tourists last year of which less than one percent came from Israel.

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