Gaza – Abeer Harb waited six hours for her fiancé’s body to be rescued from the rubble.
The 24-year-old has only been engaged to Ismail Dweik since June, and the couple were busy preparing for their wedding, when an Israeli air strike destroyed Ismail’s home, in the southern Gaza Strip.
Ismail, a 30-year-old man ready to start a new life with Abeer, was killed on August 6, on the second day of a three-day Israeli bombardment of the narrow coastal area, which had faced with lots of attacks over the course of 15 years. Israel blockade.
He was among 49 Palestinians killed in the latest round of fighting, which Israel says has targeted the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group active in Gaza. Palestinian officials say nearly half of those killed were civilians.
Israel said the attack was a “pre-emptive” attack on jihad, which it said was planning attacks in Israel.
Abeer told Al Jazeera that Ismail’s family invited her family to lunch, but they didn’t go because of the war.
Ismail tells her that he will visit her soon instead, but that is a trip he does not intend to make.
“The news started coming in about a bombed-out house in the Al-Shaout camp, where my fiancé’s family lived,” Abeer said. “I immediately grabbed my phone to call him, but he didn’t answer. I was scared and started crying a lot.”
According to the family, Ismail had returned home minutes before the bombing, and was killed along with his mother. The The attack appears to be targeted home of the commander of the Palestinian jihad in southern Gaza, Khaled Mansour.
“All night long, my eyes didn’t close as I watched the bodies and injured people get out of the wreckage,” Abeer said, as she struggled to speak while crying. “I prayed to God that Ismail was still alive. I told myself I would be satisfied if his leg was amputated or whatever. The most important thing is that he is still alive. “
“I was very disappointed when I heard the news. I feel like my life has been stolen from me,” Abeer said. “My fiance, Ismail, is very kind and generous and he has prepared a modest home for us.”
Abeer and Ismail’s story highlights the impact the conflict has had on everyday life in Gaza, with life’s trajectory altered or ended in the blink of an eye.
“I still feel like I’m in a big nightmare. I don’t want to believe what happened. Israel destroyed my dreams and stole my joy with my fiancé.”
Tragedy on wedding day
What was supposed to be the happiest day of Akram Abu Qaida’s life quickly turned into disaster.
The 24-year-old’s wedding day is said to be on August 6. There will be parties, an opportunity to gather with family and friends and officially start a new life with his bride.
Mohammed, Akram’s father, explained that the family decided, after the Israeli bombings began, to take Akram’s bride home without holding a wedding ceremony out of respect for those who lost their lives.
“In accordance with the tradition continued in Gaza, me, my wife and my family left our house in Beit Hanoun [in the northern Gaza Strip]and go to the bride’s house, to complete the wedding ceremony and “bring the bride” to her own home,” Mohammed explained to Al Jazeera, speaking on behalf of Akram, who was too shaken by the tragedy to speak.
On the way to the bride’s house, the car in which the groom’s mother, Naema, was traveling was hit by an Israeli air strike, killing her instantly and injuring five family members, including children. .
“It was a horrifying scene. I did not know what had happened. A missile hit my wife as she got out of the car, and she was cut into pieces.” Mohammed said.
“The atmosphere of joy turned into mourning in an instant,” he added. “What is our fault? It’s not my son’s fault, the groom will have to live with the painful memory that will follow him for the rest of his life.”
Having lost his wife and children, Mohammed now worries about his son’s mental state, and his new daughter-in-law, now in her family’s home.
“Who wants to be happy or get married after all this?”
Postponement and Cancellation
The majority of Palestinians in Gaza planning their weddings were lucky to avoid any material loss during the most recent outbreak of conflict.
However, as is often the case in Gaza, the fighting affected long-planned events, and ultimately made it impossible for people to live normal lives.
Maysa Maliha and Ahmed Zaqout had planned to get married on August 7, during the busy summer wedding season in Gaza.
The fight was meant to be put on hold, but it was short-lived, and the couple moved the date to August 12, a few days after the conflict ended.
While the rest of Gaza is starting to operate, Maysa and Ahmed rush to get on with their lives, and make new deals after they quickly scrapped their plans after the start of the offensive. of Israel.
“This is the worst thing about living in Gaza. Planning is non-existent, you cannot plan your life your way.” Maysa told Al Jazeera. “There are always surprises and developments in political and security situations that disrupt your personal life plans.”
The couple decided to hold the wedding reception but minimize the festive activities.
“We dreamed of having a big party and doing whatever we wanted,” Maysa said. “But we decided to do it with a quick silence party for fear that things could escalate again.”
“What happened in those three days made me decide that I would have my wedding day and be happy even if my heart is sad,” the bride said. “There is a very small space for happiness in Gaza and you never know what might happen to you.”