GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Nahed Ghurani worried that naming his new son Hezbollah might cause the boy problems when he grows up. But young Hezbollah Ghurani won't be the only Palestinian in this predicament.
In a spasm of celebration for Hezbollah's monthlong battle against Israel, many parents in Gaza City have named their children after the Islamic militant group and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
In Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, six Palestinian women have named their babies Hassan, Nasrallah, or Hassan Nasrallah, according to maternity records from when fighting began July 12 to when a cease-fire took effect Monday.
About half a dozen more named their babies Hezbollah, Beirut, or Promise — after the name of the military campaign Hezbollah staged against Israel, "The True Promise," records showed.
In Gaza, as in many parts of the Arab and Muslim world, Nasrallah has seen his popularity rise dramatically by holding his own against the region's most powerful army.
Ghurani, the new father and a wealthy Palestinian fruit importer, said his wife gave birth before hostilities began, but they didn't name their child until the fighting was at full pitch.
"My wife wanted to call the baby Nasrallah, but I wanted Hezbollah — to commemorate the entire resistance," he said smiling.
"My friends said with this name he won't be able to work, or travel abroad. I have business in Israel as well — but you know, there is a nationalist spirit in me," he said.
Ghurani said he also tried to change his 6-year-old son's name from Islam to Nasrallah, but "couldn't find the right papers."
"The next son — we'll call him Ahmadinejad," Ghurani said, in honor of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for the complete annihilation of Israel.
Nasrallah means "Victory of God" in Arabic, and some Palestinian women think that's exactly what happened in the recent war.
"It's a hope for victory that encourages women to do this," maternity ward nurse Fiza Zaanin said.
"Just like when women named their children Saddam when he promised to destroy Israel," she explained, referring to ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein who launched missiles at Israel during the first Gulf War.
Her own neighbor named her son Hassan Nasrallah, she said.
But local traditions, Zaanin said, prevented more women from naming their babies after the Hezbollah leader.
"Normally people wait for a great leader to die. When Sheikh Ahmed Yassin died, almost all the women giving birth that day called their sons Ahmed, Yassin or Sheik Ahmed, to immortalize the Hamas leader," she said.