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When Israel began bombarding Gaza in October, they initially decided against leaving their neighborhood. That changed on 13 October when, as Husam described it, “there was a very frightening bombing and we felt that we would not wake up alive.”

The following day, Samia, Husam and his family fled Gaza City. They made their way to the home of Husam’s aunt in southern Gaza.

After they arrived at his aunt’s house, a small wedding was organized there. Husam and Samia became husband and wife under the most stressful circumstances imaginable.

“I was not happy about that,” Samia said. “But in Gaza, nothing stays the same. Our lives can change either for better or worse at any second. This war has changed our lives for the worse, taking away my joy and my dreams. Like any girl, I had wished to wear a white dress on my wedding day and to draw up plans for a party.”

“I was a bride of displacement, a bride without a white veil or a smile to welcome a new life,” she added. “I wasn’t able to say farewell to being single in the way I would have liked. And my family wasn’t by my side when I became a wife.”

Rather than having a place to live with her new husband, Samia is now staying in a home with more than 40 people crowded into it.

“Getting water, bread and other food is very difficult. Before the war, everything was available. We have now returned to a primitive life.”

Salim Hassan – Husam’s father – had wanted to have Samia’s family present when the wedding occurred but it was not possible.

“Nothing is safe with this war,” he said.

Amal and Salem Awad got married after they took shelter at a school run by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in the southern city of Khan Younis.

“We miraculously escaped death,” Amal, 28, said. She and Salem, 32, are cousins from Beit Lahia in northern Gaza.

“We were first displaced to UNRWA schools in the north because our homes were bombed and nothing remained of them,” she said. “Then planes began targeting schools in the north and we were afraid that one of us would be killed or injured. To leave the north, we had to go past Israeli tanks. We raised a white flag so that they would know we were civilians.”


A couple from Beit Lahia, northern Gaza, got married after Israel inflicted huge destruction on the city. (Mohammed Alaswad / APA images)

The couple were among a group of about 50 people – including members of their extended family – who fled toward Khan Younis.

“The road was long and difficult,” said Amal. “We were displaced to the south, without knowing where we would sleep.”

To respect the vast numbers of people killed in Gaza, their wedding did not involve music or partying.

“I feel that Gaza will not emerge from its sadness for a long time,” Amal said. “We will need a long time to get over the pain of this war.”

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