Gaza City — The wedding photos tell a startling story: a Palestinian bride and groom, just 14 and 15 years old, respectively, tie the knot in a small village in the Gaza Strip.
The half dozen images included a few lines of impressionistic commentary from the Reuters shutterbug who took them. It quickly began to make the rounds in social media and the evocative portraits probably made as much of an impression on the international public as any story to come out of the impoverished coastal slice of land in recent months.
It’s a tragedy that the international media is maintaining an unofficial blackout on the dramatic events taking place in Gaza, with the exception of such so-called human interest stories. In fact there has been little coverage of the strip since Israel’s conflict with its Hamas rulers last fall. The overthrow of Egypt’s government, the bloody civil war raging in Syria, and the peace talks lurching forward between Israel and the leaders of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank have also distracted attention from Gaza.
But it is a monumental mistake for the international community, the U.S. and even Israel to ignore Gaza.
Beyond the steady trickle of deaths that result from the unceasing Israeli aggressions from land, sea and air, human suffering is dramatically increasing amid a continuing blockade and a new crackdown imposed by the new rulers of Egypt, who view Hamas with deep suspicion due to its deep alliance with the now-deposed Muslim Brotherhood.
Perhaps just as importantly, the extreme isolation in which Hamas finds itself right now provides a historic opportunity for the international community — and even Israel — to explore ways to engage constructively with it. That could offer benefit of all parties, including an improvement in the conditions of Gaza’s 1.6 million people, security for Israelis living within range of rockets fired by Islamic militants, and a chance for a longterm truce or other agreement that would allow both peoples to live in peace.
The extraordinary deterioration in conditions in Gaza started more than a year ago with a campaign orchestrated by anti-Muslim Brotherhood media in Egypt to demonize Hamas. It blamed them for many of the troubles that the country suffers and denounced a collusion between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.