By Arina Amat
JERUSALEM — In a surprise development that caught their own governments and much of the international community off guard, all unwed Israelis and Palestinians announced they were in love and would marry one another on September 28 at a collective ceremony in Gaza City. The wedding will unite 1.8 million people in marriage, thus creating 900,000 Israeli/Palestinian couples in an amorous instant.
The announcement, released to the press on Monday, prompted an emergency meeting of the Israeli cabinet, which late last week authorized a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in order to stop Hamas militants from launching rockets into Israel. Despite heavy tank shelling and artillery strikes by the Israeli military over the weekend, along with continued rocket fire by Hamas, a spontaneous cease-fire has held since news of the forthcoming nuptials spread via social media.
“These romances are in no way a government operation,” said an Israeli cabinet official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he had yet to disclose his own recent engagement to a Palestinian woman. “But if through love we can achieve our goal of safety and security for the Israeli people, we are prepared to do all we can to encourage intimate relations with Palestinians.”
Hamas, the militant group that dominates Gaza, issued a statement saying it had been morally transformed by the adoration expressed between the formerly bitter antagonists.
“We unconditionally surrender to the love that so many Israelis obviously feel for Palestinians,” the statement said. “We have no further use for weapons and violence, because we’re certain that mutual affection will secure the freedom and dignity that Palestinians long for.”
Many observers wonder how, amid conditions of warfare, single Israelis and Palestinians managed to court each other and fall in love. It is now known that when the Israeli Air Force dropped leaflets on rooftops warning Gazans to evacuate an area before bombing it, many Israelis slipped in personal profiles as well, including photos and contact information.
Swooning and pressing photos to their chests, Palestinians immediately texted the Israelis and, after a frenzy of what was termed “wireless pairing off,” they made arrangements to rendezvous. With no safe location to meet above ground in either southern Israel or northern Gaza, the first dates took place in the underground tunnels that Hamas had built for crossing into Israel with violent intent but have since been reserved for lovers.
Late Monday, the Israeli military announced a partial withdrawal of its forces from Gaza. Married soldiers will retreat, unwed soldiers will stay—and military staff now refer to the ground invasion as a ground romance.
“Everyone’s tossed aside their weapons,” said an Israeli defense official. “Vengeance and retaliation are now seen as dirty rags that no one wants to touch. Going forward, we’ll be engaged in diplomacy of the most intimate kind, high-level talks—or rather silences—in which both parties give and give and give.”