“My wedding was happiness mixed with pain,” Rajabi explained. “I had ambitions and beautiful plans—to leave my parent’s home just like every normal bride does.”
But the home had been demolished by the Israeli authorities—and approximately 60% of the Palestinian homes in Silwan are threatened with demolition. The Israeli authorities are seeking to transform Silwan into both a National Park and an Israeli neighborhood. For Rajabi, honoring tradition meant walking across the pile of pieces that used to be her family home, despite the enormous hardship in her community.
“I was determined to leave from the remnants of my family home, even on top of the rubble and stones,” she explained. “I am my parent’s only daughter, and I wanted my parents to be happy.”
She had long dreamed of leaving from her parent’s home on her wedding day—a time-honored tradition in Palestine.
“I feel sad that I left that way,” she said. “But my family was at my side: my parents, brothers, and uncles—and lots of journalists.”
Her wedding day became one shared with the world. “This made me feel happy,” she said. “There are those around the world who saw what happened and understood my feelings.”
No matter what pain it brought, she was determined to leave from her parent’s home to start her new life. “Israeli soldiers tried to impede the festive atmosphere, but we would not let them succeed, so they left,” she recalled. “The procession was beautiful!”
Video footage of the day shows friends and family, and strangers dancing, clapping, and singing. “I wanted to prove to the occupation that my happiness is up to me—that Palestinians are patient, resilient, and of unbreakable spirit,” she said. “Nothing prevented me from leaving from my parent’s home—not even the demolition.”
The rubble represents the only childhood home she has left.
“When the home was demolished, 40 people from my family—including 15 children—moved to a nearby tent,” she said. “We wanted to say that this is our land, and we will stay put.”
According to Palestinian tradition, a bride leaves from her father’s house; surrounded by her mother, uncles, brothers, and sisters. “Sure, I saw the pain in everyone’s eyes,” said Rajabi. “But in the end, everything happened like I wanted, and I left from my father’s home.”
She still has hope that her family home will be rebuilt—the same as it always was, down to the last details—and, most of all, that her family will move back in. “I hope that someday we can rebuild what was destroyed,” she said. “I want to tell the world that we live under occupation and harsh conditions—yet we are steadfast and proud, despite the sadness.”
UNOCHA data reveals that during the last five years, between 1 January 2018 – 31 October 2022, Israeli authorities demolished 96 structures in Silwan. 285 people were displaced, of whom 151 were children.