‘No singing, no joy’: How settlers ruined a Palestinian wedding

June 21 was supposed to be one of the happiest days in the lives of the Ahmads*.

Hours before their wedding ceremony, a large-scale attack by hundreds of Israeli settlers on their occupied West Bank village of Turmus Aya turned their lives upside down.A 27-year-old Palestinian father of two, Omar Qattin, was killed in the attack while at least 30 homes and 60 cars were torched in broad daylight, according to a local official.

“The wedding was supposed to take place in the Turmus Aya Grand Hall. The celebration was cancelled because the space was turned into a funeral hall for the martyr,” an uncle of the couple, 42-year-old Osama Ahmad*, told Al Jazeera.

Instead, a brief ceremony took place at the groom’s house and was restricted to the couple and a handful of relatives.

There was “no singing, no joy”, Osama said.“The groom was silent and sad the whole time. He was sad and shocked because of the horror of the scene and the loss of joy. He was also sad for his country and for the martyr,” he added.

Before the attack, about a dozen of the bride’s and groom’s female relatives were getting ready in a small salon opened about a year ago by the Ahmad family in the yard of their home.Dozens of settlers smashed the salon with rocks and set it on fire by throwing Molotov cocktails at it, according to witnesses.

“Frankly, I did not feel for a moment that we would survive or get out alive,” Marwa Ahmad*, one of the women who were inside the salon during the attack, told Al Jazeera.

“We saw masked young men – there were about 100 of them. They besieged the house, started throwing rocks and burned down the salon,” she said.

Those inside used a door and managed to enter the house, she added. “We went to the third floor, and from there, we watched the settlers through cameras. They burned four of our cars, one after the other. Then a group of young Palestinian men came to help us through another entrance into the house.

“The settlers were trying to reach us from different directions, but thank God, the young Palestinian men arrived and got us out. We jumped over a high fence using chairs. We then walked for about 15 minutes on plain dirt roads and under trees and thorns until we reached a safe area.”

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