The most basic emotion in Gaza

War and destruction is central to any Gazan life. But what about something far more normal, like love and marriage?

They say that all is fair in love and war. In Gaza, love and war have come together in a bittersweet union.

Rana, 26, like many women around the world, dreamed of walking down the aisle in a white dress and veil. But her marriage to Mahmoud is extraordinary in many ways as life is these days in Gaza.

On the rehearsal morning about a week before their planned wedding, Mahmoud, 21, got dressed with the help of his younger brother, then sat smiling in the corner as he waited for Rana to come visit to write out invitation cards. Before Israel’s winter invasion of Gaza, it was easy for Mahmoud to recognize Rana from the merest glimpse. After the war he had to find new ways to sense her presence. “Sometimes I know she is around when I hear her giggle, or when I hear her talking to my mother,” he said.

Mahmoud lost his eyesight and right leg during an air raid on the ninth day of the attack while he was having dinner with four friends at his neighbor’s house. All survived but with severe injuries.

Rana is undaunted by the challenges Mahmoud faces adjusting to life with his injuries. “He lost his sight and his leg, but no bomb can ever take his heart, and he will never lose his sense of love,” she said. “I can’t understand why some people see what we are doing as hard; no marriage is easy,” she added. “This is a life-long commitment, for better or worse.”

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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