Thousands of people rallied in the capital, Malé and across the Maldives on Friday to express solidarity with Palestine and denounce Israel’s ongoing attacks on the Gaza Strip, which have so far killed over 1,800 people, mostly children and women, and wounded at least 7,000.

The event held in Malé, titled ‘Dhiveheenge Bodu Evvun,’—which loosely translates to “major gathering of Maldivian people”—was attended by people of all ages, who waved Palestinian flags and carried placards with messages of support for the people of Palestine.

The rally was organised by the IAC and Isra Association, with support from additional civic groups including the Mahaldheeb Foundation, Jamiyyathul Akhawaath, Maldives Türkiye Foundation, and Heyo Bingaa. 

Similar marches and rallies in support of Palestine were also held across the country on Friday.

On Friday, the Maldives also launched a series of events to provide support to the Palestinians who have been affected by the ongoing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. 

A telethon with the participation of all local media is running until Tuesday, with lead organisers International Aid Campaign (IAC) announcing that it had raised a significant amount of funds to assist those affected in Gaza.

Collection boxes are placed outside all mosques in the capital, Malé, before Friday prayers. The initiative was well-received, and IAC also advocated for other islands to follow suit by setting up their own collection boxes.

The Maldives has been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause. In 2021, the country held a large demonstration against Israeli attacks on Palestine and has consistently provided financial and material assistance.

While many Western governments and media organisations, including the United States of America, continue to fully support Israel’s actions in Gaza, which have been described as indiscriminate and vastly disproportionate, the Maldives remains resolute in its stance.

Over 423,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Gaza as a result of the Israeli bombardment which began six days ago. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a warning, stating that Gaza’s healthcare system is on the verge of collapse, and there is limited time to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Water, electricity, fuel and food supplies have been cut off to the densely populated enclave which is home to over 2.2 million Palestinians.

Residents of Gaza have sought refuge in hospitals and schools run by the United Nations, with the expectation that Israel will adhere to international law and refrain from targeting those locations. Even such places have not been immune to Israeli attacks.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency states that the number of internally displaced Palestinians seeking shelter is on the rise.

Since 2007, Israel has enforced strict control over Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters and imposed limitations on the movement of goods and people to and from Gaza.

Reports from Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, describe Israel’s actions as a system of apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Additional writing by Ibrahim Inaan and Ibrahim H. Shihab