"Malka Beer offers its heartfelt apologies to the people and the Government of India for hurting their sentiments,” the company stated in its apology.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, by company Brand Manager Gilad Dror, Malka said they did not intend to offend anyone but wanted to show their admiration for the iconic freedom fighter.
"Malka Beer offers its heartfelt apologies to the people and the Government of India for hurting their sentiments. We highly respect and value Mahatma Gandhi and regret our action of putting his image on our bottles," read the statement, while further confirming that the production and supply of the Gandhi labelled bottles were immediately halted, as soon as the Indian Embassy in Israel raised their concerns with the company.
Malka Beer is a unit of Malka Brewery, the Israeli alcohol company.
The company has apologised to the Government of India.
The special commemorative bottles of Malka and Negev beers were brought out to coincide with the 71st Independence Day of Israel (28 April) and featured images of five historical leaders on their labels including that of Mahatma Gandhi.
Earlier this week, the Kerala-state based Indian NGO Mahatma Gandhi National Foundation wrote letters to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the usage of Gandhi’s picture on beer bottles “undemocratic, unethical and immoral”.
The matter was also raised in the upper house of the Indian parliament by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Sanjay Singh who demanded an immediate withdrawal of the bottles from the Israeli market.
The matter created particular outrage in the country, as Mahatma Gandhi was the only non-Israeli face on the limited edition bottles.
Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to freedom from Britain’s colonial rule in 1947, campaigned against several social evils including alcohol consumption. He considered drinking more a disease than a vice. "This monstrous evil was undoubtedly one of the contributory factors in the fall of the Roman Empire", he wrote in the ‘Young India ’newspaper in 1929.