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(photo credit: AP)
One hundred Gaza widows have been remarried in a mass ceremony on the beaches of Gaza following the loss of their husbands during the 22-day war with Israel this past January.
The women - all veiled and wearing long black dresses and gloves - were married to a second husband in a large wedding organized by the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.
The women were widowed after their husbands, Hamas fighters, were killed in the war between Israel and Hamas in January.
All of the men and women participating in the wedding were 25-years-old or younger and loyal to Hamas.
Many of the grooms, each given $2,800 by Hamas as a gift for marrying a widow, are taking on another wife.
The majority of the men at the mass wedding were the brothers-in-law of the widows, marrying their brother's widowed wife.
Twenty of the marriages took place outside the bereaved families.
The women, many of them mothers, were accompanied by daughters in white dresses, sons in black suits, relatives and friends.
A second Hamas mass wedding, held in the At-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City on Saturday, included 13 couples, among them Hamas members recently released from Israeli jails.
The wedding was put together by three neighborhood mosques and funded by the At-Tayseer charitable society.
Another two mass weddings are said to have been held in the Palestinian enclave over the past two weeks.
"We have weddings like this all the time," Um Ashraf Sayem, whose son is a Hamas official in Gaza, told The Media Line. "Sometimes it's for people who can't pay money for a wedding party. Different associations organize a group wedding for them and help them to buy furniture."
A Hamas mass wedding held in July 2009 in a Nablus sports stadium is thought to have been the largest Palestinian mass wedding ever held, with 452 couples tying the knot.
Palestinian mass weddings have been held all over the Middle East.
A 32-couple wedding is set to be held shortly in the Radwan neighborhood and a mass wedding for blind couples, the first of its kind in the Middle East, is expected before the end of the month.