Bride from the Gaza Tunnel

She left her mother and job for her husband.

Muhammad Warda and his wife (Der Spiegel)

After waiting for about an hour, Wednesday last week, Muhammad Warda finally met his wife in Rafah, Gaza Strip. May, 23 year-old, rose from a tunnel with her abaya and scarf full of dust and sand. “I was shocked. I felt so bad that she had gone through this ordeal for me,” the 26-year-old guy said.

The spouse engaged in an evening last July. Through Internet and webcam, ten family members of Muhammad were sitting in front of their most prized possession, a computer. “Why are you so red?” asked May to the nervous Muhammad. After asking by their parents, they agreed to wed and smiled at each other.

It took four days for May to travel from Ramallah, West Bank, to meet his lover who lives in Gaza City. She had to go because Muhammad couldn’t get permission from Israeli authority. May, the only daughter in her family, left her mother alone after her father passed away a month before her leaving.

With her mother she took a taxi to Jordan and then traveled to border area in Rafah, Egypt. She separated with her mother in there. May has acknowledged that she would never know when she can meet her mother. She has to pay for US$ 1,500 to be smuggled through a tunnel into Gaza.

The secret tunnels have become the only way of traffic for people and goods in-out Gaza Strip. This situation caused by Israeli blockade on its ground, air, and sea borders as response for Hamas domination in Gaza.

May has faced a quiet big risk. Her life threaten to death if the tunnel collapsed or striked by Israeli missiles. Sometimes, Egyptian try to shut down the tunnels by throwing gas grenade.

The new bride recently lives in Muhammad’s family house. They stay in a room with a mattress becomes bed at night and sofa at the daytime. Their condition becomes worse because Muhammad unemployed.

Before Hamas took Gaza in the mid of June 2007, he worked as a bodyguard for Fatah leaders that dominated West Bank. Now he gets only US$ 25 per month for his loyalty on the organization led by Mahmud Abbas. “I have US$ 4,000 in debts and I don’t know how I am going to pay it back,” said Muhammad.

May expressed her little regret. She lost her job she had in a boutique in Ramallah. “Love is cruel. But I didn’t expect it to be this bad,” she said. May still hasn’t seen the Mediterranean, although the sea is only a short 20 minute drive away from her parents in law. Cost a dollar for the journey is too heavy for Muhammad and May.

For love, people often do everything without realize the risk will be faced.

Der Spiegel/Faisal Assegaf

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