Skip to main content

War zone wedding: Gaza couple marry at U.N. shelter

By Bryony Jones, CNN
updated 1:35 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Omar Abu Namar, 30, and Heba Fayad, 23, were married in ceremony at UNRWA shelter
  • The couple moved to the Gaza shelter after their homes in Beit Lahiya were destroyed
  • UNRWA paid for the couple to spend their first few nights as husband and wife in a hotel

(CNN) -- Amid the death and destruction of life in Gaza, a spark of hope for the future: A Palestinian couple have married in a makeshift wedding ceremony at the UNRWA shelter which has become their temporary home.

Omar Abu Namar, 30, and Heba Fayad, 23, moved to the shelter -- a U.N. school in Gaza City's Shati refugee camp -- after their homes in Beit Lahiya were destroyed in the conflict with Israel, throwing their wedding plans into disarray.

Fayad's white dress and other items for the wedding were lost, and she and her husband-to-be faced the prospect of having to postpone their special day indefinitely, before friends, family and others stepped in to help.

"I went to UNRWA and told them that I am engaged and asked them if they can help me to do the wedding," Abu Namar explained in an interview with the Watania Media Agency, published on YouTube.

Five killed despite Mideast cease fire
Palestinians: Cease-fire extended 5 days
Stabilizing Gaza during cease-fire

"They said yes, we will help you with it. They stood by me, and helped with the wedding from A to Z."

UNWRA offered to host the wedding at the shelter, and even paid for the couple to spend their first few nights as husband and wife at a hotel, away from the crowds of thousands of fellow displaced people now living under the same roof.

Those crowds -- the couple's new neighbors -- were in attendance as Abu Namar and Fayad celebrated their wedding.

For many the party, complete with dancers, music, balloons and cake, offered a much-needed break from the bloodshed, and a chance to forget the troubles of recent weeks.

"Now that we are at the wedding, we have a change of spirits: enough depression and melancholy, this is something else," guest Haya Aziz told the Agence France-Presse news agency (AFP).

UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness told CNN the wedding was a rare piece of good news for Gaza.

"It is truly heartwarming that amid the carnage and devastation we have a story of love and humanity -- it is a reminder of the dignity and the destinies that lie behind the statistics."

But he added that despite the individual romance of Abu Namar and Fayad's story, "one must never lose sight of the fact that Gaza has seen its worst devastation in recent memory."

READ MORE: Gaza cease-fire extension holding
READ MORE: Mideast spiraling in war and terror
READ MORE: What are the prospects for peace?

CNN's Carol Jordan, Andrew Carey, Antonia Mortensen and Ali Younes contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Tensions in the Middle East
Here's a look at some of the most serious conflicts involving Israel and its neighbors -- conflicts that have spanned more than six decades.
updated 11:17 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
A video released by ISIS shows the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley and threatens the life of another American if President Obama doesn't end military operations in Iraq.
updated 5:04 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join his country's military.
updated 8:28 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
The sights at the Gaza zoo couldn't be sadder, after it was nearly destroyed during recent Israel-Hamas conflict.
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Both Hamas and Israel have chosen conflict over real peace negotiations again and again in the past, writes Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Mohammed Najib says Hamas' objectives also include ending its political isolation.
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
With so many conflicts, on so many fronts, here's a quick look at what's happening.
updated 10:29 AM EDT, Sat July 5, 2014
Alan Elsner: How Israel reacts will be decisive turning point for both Israelis and Palestinians.
updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
The Israel-Gaza conflict impacts families on both sides. Karl Penhaul speaks to the family of a militant killed in Gaza.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
A sense of Egypt's historic role and the traditional animosity of their military toward Islamist radicalism have propelled Egypt to take a central role in the on-off cease-fire talks.
updated 5:50 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
If the Gaza truce holds and Israel's Operation Protective Edge comes to its conclusion, some things are certain.
updated 12:26 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
CNN's Tim Lister says, to secure peace, Israel needs to offer Gazans a better future.
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
Tensions between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been strained for years.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
Images from the conflict between Israel and Hamas depict apparent civilians, caught in the middle.
updated 9:06 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
Hamas must be tamed through politics, not the failed strategy of war, argues Ed Husain.
updated 9:55 AM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014
It may have started as a TV debate about the Israel-Hamas conflict, but it's now turned into an online war of words.
updated 2:20 PM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014
Hamas' political leader, who lives in Qatar, sits down with CNN for an exclusive interview.
updated 6:43 AM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014
Nafoz Mohammed is living in a cramped two-room apartment with 16 other people, hours holed up in fear.
updated 12:54 AM EDT, Sun August 3, 2014
Karl Penhaul visits a destroyed section of Gaza and learns how the bombing has affected one student's aspirations.
updated 2:15 AM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
The birth of a child is normally a joyous occasion, but it is tinged by sadness and anxiety in Gaza. Ian Lee reports.
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Amid the Gaza conflict, experts try to figure out who's in charge of "the resistance."
updated 6:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The opening was so small that CNN's Wolf Blitzer -- no physical giant -- had to bend down to climb inside.
Follow CNNArabic for the latest news and analysis from the Middle East and rest of the world.
ADVERTISEMENT