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Image: Arin Safadi crosses the border
Menahem Kahana
Arin Safadi, a 24-year-old Druze bride from Ein Qiniya in the Golan Heights, waves goodbye to her family as she crosses the Israeli-Syrian border of Kuneitra on Sep. 25, 2008 to join her groom and cousin, 35-year-old Rabia Safadi.
updated 9/25/2008 1:25:23 PM ET 2008-09-25T17:25:23

Dressed in a white wedding dress, Arin Safadi crossed into Syria from Israel on Thursday to get married.

Arin Safadi, a 25-year-old Druse from the village of Ein Qinya in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, was greeted by her fiance and his family and was accompanied by International Committee of the Red Cross officials.

“I am sad because I have left behind my family, but at the same time I am happy to join my relatives,” she said upon arrival in Quneitra, located on the Syrian side of the border.

Arin Safadi met her fiance and cousin, Ravia Safdi, in Jordan a few months ago. A 32-year-old merchant, Rabia Safdi applied to the Red Cross for marriage and two months later, he received approval.

“I am very glad that she finally arrived here,” he said. “I hope that the Golan will return to Syria and all these barriers are removed.”

“I hope peace would prevail to rejoin our relatives on the other side of the border,” he added.

More than 20,000 Arabs who follow the minority Druse sect, an offshoot of Islam, live on the Israeli side of the Golan, along with 15,000 Israeli settlers. Israel seized the strategic strip from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war.

The ICRC assisted Arin Safadi, who will not be permitted to return to Israel. The festive mood was mixed with the sadness of impending family separation. But there was some hope that recent indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel would pave the way for direct negotiations and eventually lead to a peace treaty between the two adversaries.

Syrian-Israeli peace talks broke down in 2000, but both countries have recently held four rounds of indirect peace talks under Turkish mediation.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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