Palestinian Couple Marry after 18 Years of Groom’s Captivity

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Former Palestinian prisoner and now groom, Taher Qubha claps as he is escorted by his male friends and family members to meet his bride on their wedding day in Gaza City on 28 October 2011. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed Abed)

By: Taghrid Atallah

Published Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Israeli prison bars separated a Palestinian couple from marriage for 18 years. But following the latest prisoner deal, Taher and Raeda at long last tied the knot on a beach in Gaza.

Gaza — “Why would you associate your fate with that of a man who received several life sentences?”

Raeda has often heard this ‘advice’ from her family and friends during her long wait for her fiance, Taher. Taher, who is from Borgata in Jenin, was arrested in 1994 for planning an operation in Israel. He was sentenced to six life sentences. His 17-year-old fiance Raeda thought she would never see him again.

The young woman faced tremendous pressures to leave Taher, move on with her life, and start a family. She insisted on waiting, even though the future of her relationship with her fiance was uncertain. But after 18 years of waiting, they married, shortly after Taher was released as part of the latest prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas.

The wedding, which was held at the Commodore Hotel on a Gaza beach, was not what they had imagined. There was an overwhelming presence of cameras, TV screens, and political figures, namely Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his family.

The occupation tried to ruin this happy occasion by insisting Taher could never return to his home in Jenin and must live in exile in Gaza. The couple were nevertheless determined to be together, so Raeda also left Jenin, crossing Jordan and Egypt in order to join her husband in the Strip.

Raeda waited year after year amid objections from her family. She refused to marry any of the men who proposed to her. She cried in private to evade her family’s demands she break off her engagement to Taher. Although the idea crossed Raeda’s mind when a friend broke up with her imprisoned fiance, something always kept her from taking such a course. What was it? She simply answers, “It would have been a great loss.” She had her own way to console herself.

But the marriages of her female relatives made her sad. Her only glimmer of hope was visiting her fiance in prison from time to time in order to renew their vows. Their meetings used to increase her determination. Taher’s wooden gifts, which he made for her while in prison, brought her happiness. She used to hold them until Taher was able to hug her himself. Raeda tells her story with a smile. The long hours of the night are over. Taher promises to compensate her for all those lost years they spent apart.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

What an amazing story...may they make up for all the lost years.

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