Maldives raises funds for humanitarian aid to Gaza

Maldives raises funds for humanitarian aid to Gaza

COLOMBO, July 23 (Xinhua) -- The Maldivian Red Crescent is raising funds for the Palestinians affected by the Israeli aggression in Gaza, the organization said on Wednesday in a statement, after the government decided to suspend three bilateral agreements with Israel.

The Red Crescent's Palestinian wing is seeking 14.7 million U.S. dollars over the next seven months as humanitarian aid to the people affected by the conflict.

The organization has sought the assistance from its sister organizations across the world to reach that target, the statement noted.

Airlines blocked flights to Israel on Wednesday after a Gaza rocket struck near airport runways, as the United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon urged an end to the conflict that has killed 639 Palestinians and 31 Israelis, international media reported.

The Maldivian government on Tuesday announced a decision to boycott Israeli products and the annulment of three bilateral agreements, in protest over the fighting in Gaza.

Maldives' Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon told reporters the Maldives would join other Arab nations in co-sponsoring a resolution at this week's special session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling for the protection of an independent Palestinian state and the extension of humanitarian aid.

The agreements to be annulled involve cooperation in areas of health, culture and education, and tourism.

However, the Maldivian government stopped short of announcing the severing of diplomatic ties.

There are few tourists arriving in the Maldives from Israel and there were no Israeli investments in the country.

Israeli tourists -- numbering 2,569 in 2013 -- constituted 0.3 percent of total tourist arrivals. In June 2014, 254 Israeli tourists visited the Maldives, a 72 percent increase from 12 months earlier, according to data from the Tourism Ministry.

The Maldives has also seen street protests condemning Gaza tension.