Remember the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners released last fall in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who had been held by Hamas for more than five years? Now, 13 of those freed then deported by Israel have celebrated a mass wedding in Qatar. None other than Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi congratulated the newlyweds and took the opportunity to slam Israel.
The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reports on last Friday’s celebration:
Palestinian ambassador to Qatar Muneer Ghannam attended the wedding along with Hamas’ chief in exile Khalid Mashaal, who delivered a speech to mark the occasion.
“Our happy occasions are nationalistic occasions, and at the same time our nationalistic occasions are happy occasions,” Mashaal said in his speech in a reference to the prisoner swap.
Because no terrorist wedding could be complete without an anti-Israel diatribe, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi – who in the past has called suicide bombings “heroic martyrdom operations”— shared these thoughts, according to Ma’an:
He tackled the situation in Syria, then congratulated the Palestinian couples applauding Qatar for hosting the ceremony. He prayed that a day will come when “crowds of Muslims enter [Jerusalem’s] Al-Aqsa Mosque chanting Allah Akbar.”
Sheikh Qaradawi also denounced Israeli violations against the Palestinians stating that Israeli settlements “were taking everything, while the Palestinians who inherited the land from their fathers and grandfathers are not taking anything, nor can they find land to build homes for their families.”
Palestinian families living in Doha hosted the couples in the morning to perform traditional Palestinian rites such as the groom bath and shave.
Israel insisted on deportation outside the West Bank and Gaza for those serving sentences for the most severe crimes, as they are still considered a security threat. The BBC last month profiled two of the prisoners deported to Qatar, one for murdering three Israelis and planning a kidnapping and the other for making explosives for use against Israelis. Neither regrets their crimes, one calling those actions a “duty.”
Ma’an did not specify the names of the 13 grooms or the crimes for which they were serving sentences. A total of 15 were deported to Qatar.
The Qatari monarchy — with which the U.S. has bilateral relations that according to the State Department are “strong and expanding” — funded the mass wedding. All of the deportees’ living expenses are covered by the Qatari government, according to the BBC. Released prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza as well as the deportees have been showered with rewards, including new homes, cash, free hotel nights and an all-expenses-paid hajj pilgrimage from the Saudi king.
The blog Doha News concluded its report on the wedding wishing the newlyweds all the best, saying: “Congratulations, all!”