‘We will celebrate amidst destruction’: Young couple marries in Gaza camp | Israel War on Gaza

In the middle of a makeshift camp for the displaced in Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, the air was filled with sounds of celebration. Dozens had gathered to mark the wedding of a Palestinian couple from the north.

Mahmoud, 23, and Shaima Khaziq, 18, had planned to marry more than eight months ago, but postponed the event because of the Israeli war on Gaza that began last October.

For more than two months, the displaced couple, along with their families, had resided in a makeshift camp in Deir el-Balah after being forced to flee the Shujayea neighbourhood in Gaza City. “We left our home amidst bombardment and gunfire, seeking refuge here, thus postponing our wedding,” Mahmoud told Al Jazeera.

“We had hoped to wait until the end of the war to celebrate, but with no end in sight, we decided to celebrate amidst simplicity,” he said.

The couple held a simple ceremony with the hopes of bringing some semblance of joy to their hearts and those of their displaced neighbours and friends.

Beneath cloth and nylon tents, family members and well-wishers gathered to witness the union. Shaima was surrounded by her mother, sisters, and friends, while women outside sang songs. Mahmoud’s face beamed with modest happiness as he held Shaima’s hand.

It was a poignant event.

“Our joy today feels incomplete,” Mahmoud told Al Jazeera. “We had hoped for calmness, to celebrate in a grand event hall, and to return to our apartment, now destroyed by bombings.

Shaima characterised their happiness as “bittersweet”.

“We had dreamed of a wedding under normal circumstances, in a beautiful dress, but the ravages of war took everything from us,” she said. “Our home, our belongings, all destroyed.

“Yet, we refuse to let despair win. We will celebrate, even amidst destruction.”

Since October 7, 2023, Gaza has endured a devastating war by Israel, resulting in tens of thousands of civilian casualties, predominantly children and women. The conflict has left behind unprecedented humanitarian crises and widespread infrastructure destruction, leading to Israel facing charges of “genocide” before the International Court of Justice.

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