Just after the Israeli interception of the so-called humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza, I received a web-forward about a supposed wedding celebration in Gaza with photographs of young girls dressed in white, and a headline about 450 child brides.
It’s unlikely there were actual child brides here. The source for the report is rabidly-anti Islamic; although the “450 child brides” story had wide internet circulation last year, the website from which this report comes quotes what I often call the “sword verse” of the New Testament and is a Christian, militantly anti-Islamic site.
It is true that Muslims recite reports about Muhammad having child wives, which justify marriages involving very young girls. In fact these do occur in the Islamic world, although probably not as much in Gaza and West Bank as in other places.
But Hamas has set up a number of these celebrations, with brides who are not young girls.
Hamas deserves to be opposed for terror and for their tight control of Gazan economy and society, and for the verifiable human rights abuses inflicted on women (and men) by their regime. Add to this “honor killings,” staged photos indicting Israel for people killed by their own operatives, and much much more. But it’s not clear to me that circulating “urban myths” types of websites help.
Although I am dubious about the “450 Child Brides” headline, the news item certainly shows how Hamas uses the typical political trick of crafting publicity stunts like this to give people a sense of owing gratitude to the Party rather than detest the Party for its political stance which has led to boycott, death and destruction for Gaza.
The news item is about a year old and as far as I can tell the earliest reports about the wedding party (including Western news agencies) do not mention the young age of the brides. It seems to me unlikely in the extreme that religious Muslim groups (such as Hams) would sponsor a public ceremony with actual adult women brides doing the kinds of things the little girls did, nor that Hamas sponsored brides would wear Western style wedding dresses. I could not find a photo of the actual brides in the “450 Brides” story, so a “226 Brides” story in the West Bank (not Gaza) may illustrate how the brides are more likely to have been dressed: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4727291.stm
However, this story does illustrate an important point, as I suggested: Muslim Brotherhood groups such as Hamas (like many political parties, religious cults and totalitarian regimes) stage events like this for political reasons. Moreover, try to calculate the total expense for a single event: $500 to each couple, the clothing, cars, food and so forth. Determine what this party and the others like it meant to the Gazan economy, or what it says about the availability of cash, nice clothing and cars in Gaza, at least to Hamas.
Gazans have indeed suffered from the Israeli / Egyptian blockade (that is the point), but clearly Hamas can muster up the cash and supplies for such events.