70 disabled Gaza men look towards a new life

November 1st, 2010 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Gaza, Nov 1 (IANS) Life will perhaps be a lot better for them now. Seventy men, left disabled when Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza in December 2008, have tied the knot in a mass wedding organised by the ruling Hamas.

Sitting on his wheelchair, Omer el-Khouli was exhilarated as he celebrated with his bride. He had been critically wounded and became physically disabled in the military offensive.

The 70 young couples apparently left behind their suffering, while they enjoyed the rituals and the Palestinian music and Islamic anthems at their wedding.

“Despite my disability, I feel like I was reborn while I’m celebrating with my new wife and sharing a mass wedding with other young men who tasted the pain of their wounds but didn’t lose their aspirations,” el-Khouli told Xinhua.

As’ad el-Nahal, another groom at the mass wedding, said he expected to start a new life different from his previous painful days.

“I hope I will pick up the flowers of happiness instead of the suffering I had during the Israeli army strikes,” Nahal said.

The al-Tayseer Association had arranged the mass wedding ceremony with the theme “Despite the wounds we will continue happiness”.

The 70 couples rode in a long convoy of cars around Gaza city’s main streets.

Sa’ed Abu Nada, executive director of Tayseer Association, said the mass wedding achieved a lot, mainly “rewarding those who were injured during the war and supporting them economically to begin a new life”.

“The idea was to help those who had a permanent disability to be able to merge in our communities and rehabilitate themselves to continue a normal life,” said Abu Nada.

The deposed premier of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haneya, blessed the couples in the ceremony.

“This mass wedding ceremony is not only to reward the heroes but also to reiterate that resistance is the only choice of our Palestinian people who want to liberate their homeland and establish the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” said Haneya.

The wounded grooms “are sending a message through this ceremony to the international community that shows Israeli crimes and brutalities against our people”, he said.

During the three-week Israeli operation, around 1,450 Palestinians and 10 Israelis were killed and around 5,000 Palestinians were injured.

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