Dozens of freed Palestinian prisoners wed in a mass ceremony in Rafah


The weddings of 40 newly freed Palestinians from Israeli prisons was attended by citizens and high ranking Fatah officials on Thursday in Rafah, south of Gaza.

Faisal Abu Shahla, a Palestinian legislative council member for the Fatah movement, said the wedding celebrations were to show appreciation for the “heroes.”

“These men have sacrificed years of their lives for freedom, and it is our duty to at least reward them and facilitate their wedding with the help of good men and national personalities,” he said.

The celebration came after the December release of 1050 Palestinians in exchange for Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, held captive in Palestine for five years. The Palestinians released from prison had been detained under various charges from murder, to terrorist activities against the Jewish state with sentences ranging from tens of years to five life sentences.

Abu Shahla said that the Palestinian president and head of the Fatah movement, Mahmoud Abbas, had prepared for the largest mass wedding in the West Bank and Gaza during his visit to Turkey.

“One of the charities Turkey, together with Egyptian sponsorship, donated the resources that allowed for the 500 marriage ceremonies for the newly released prisoners.”

In the last four years, organizations facilitating mass weddings have mushroomed in the Palestinian territories, with ceremonies of tens of Palestinians taking place every year.

According to a Palestinian leader from the People’s Party, Waleeed al-Awadh, mass weddings are a good economic remedy for many problems suffered by men wanting to marry but not being able to afford it.

“Palestinian young men need support, especially with the increased unemployment and the scarce work opportunists due to the sanctions imposed by Israel which still continues for the fifth consecutive year,” he said.

Ashraf Jumaa, Deputy in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that mass weddings “are just one of the activities being done by Fatah to help and support the Palestinian youth.”

(Translated by Dina al-Shibeeb)