Nearly 600 Palestinians wed in mass ceremony

A relative congratulates a Palestinian bride during a mass wedding ceremony in the West Bank city of Jericho on Jan 28, 2014. Nearly 600 Palestinians were married in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in a mass wedding funded by the Wes
A relative congratulates a Palestinian bride during a mass wedding ceremony in the West Bank city of Jericho on Jan 28, 2014. Nearly 600 Palestinians were married in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in a mass wedding funded by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JERICHO, Palestinian Territories, (AFP) - Nearly 600 Palestinians were married in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in a mass wedding funded by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

Participating in the ceremony were 218 couples from the Israeli-occupied West Bank who were married in the historic city of Jericho, with another 80 pairs marrying at a parallel ceremony in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The office of Ramallah-based Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who attended the Jericho ceremony, said it had cost US$1.5 million (S$1.9 million).

The brides wore traditional embroidered Palestinian dresses, while the grooms were attired in Western suits.

Mr Jamal Lafi, director of the Bureau for Refugees, said the mass wedding was "to help young couples get married in the difficult economic situation."

Mr Lafi said Abbas's office paid for all the wedding expenses, including the couples' clothes and transportation for thousands of guests, in addition to giving each couple US$4,000.