Hundreds of couples tied the knot in northern Gaza this week in a Hamas-sponsored mass wedding.
Three hundred and thirty brides and grooms celebrated with music, dancing, fireworks and entertainers in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip in an event attended by many senior members of the ruling Hamas group. The grooms arrived on horses and had only words of thanks for Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules Gaza.
In addition to covering the costs of the wedding, Hamas also gave each couple a cash gift of $700, donated by a Saudi Arabian charity fund.
“These happy (occasions) are (steps) on the way to the greatest happiness of all, the happiness of liberty, independence and returning to all the lands of Palestine. The happiness of prayer at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top leader in the Strip, said at the event.
In keeping with local custom, the grooms danced outside with their younger sisters who wore white, while the brides danced indoors due to modesty concerns.
Beit Lahiya was hit hard in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. The IDF maintains that 10 percent of the rockets fired into Israel were launched from there, and some 17,000 were forced to flee their homes.
Mass weddings happen every few months in the Gaza strip. A year ago, 2,000 couples wed in a ceremony sponsored by Turkey. Other such ceremonies have been sponsored by United Arab Emirates and Qatar.