Guest at a teen wedding
Beit Lahiya, near the border between Israeli and northern Gaza Strip
By Mohammed Salem
I got a phone call from a friend asking if I wanted to photograph a wedding in Gaza. I told him I wasn’t interested but when he told me the groom was 15 years old and the bride was one year younger than him, I rushed to the location immediately.
After arriving I saw people celebrating in the street not far from the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip. Among them was a young Palestinian boy being carried on the shoulders of relatives and friends. I couldn’t believe that the boy was the groom until I asked him and he replied with a smile, “yes I am”.
After he finished celebrating at a party held a day before the official wedding, he went to play with friends in the street where they enjoyed flavored frozen drinks.
The second day I went back and continued covering the story, the official wedding was to take place that day. I was surprised when I saw the groom’s mother helping him put on his wedding suit. I couldn’t avoid thinking that it looked as if she was dressing him for school. After that he started combing his hair using a broken piece of a mirror.
I realized how poor the family was when I noticed that him and his wife share the three room house with the rest of the family, another nine people.
I asked the young groom if I could go with him into the house where the bride was getting prepared. When we entered the house, which was only next door, I realized that the family had not yet repaired the damage that was caused from an Israeli strike in 2009. When young Soboh looked at his bride and saw she was veiled, his face became frank and serious. At that moment the bride spoke to her groom and said, “lets smile and have our photo taken”. One thing she forgot to do before posing for the photograph was to remove her veil.