Olympic Pioneer – Iconic Palestinian Athlete Dies in Gaza Due to Israeli Blockade

Palestine's first olympian Majed Abu Marahel. (Photo: via Kooora)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

His condition was exacerbated by power outages and medical shortages caused by the ongoing Israeli siege.

Long-distance runner Majed Abu Marahel, the first Palestinian to compete at the Olympics in 1996, died in Gaza on Tuesday due to Israel’s inhumane blockade on medication and the destruction of Gaza’s healthcare system. 

Abu Marahel died at the age of 61 at the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza from kidney failure.

His condition was exacerbated by power outages and medical shortages caused by the ongoing Israeli siege. 

First Olympian

Abu Marahel made history as the first Palestinian athlete to be the flag bearer and represent Palestine at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996.

He competed in the 10km race.

“He was a Palestinian icon, and he will remain as such,” Abu Marahel’s brother told Paltoday TV after the funeral. 

Efforts to evacuate him to Egypt were thwarted when the Rafah crossing was closed by Israel, leading to a deterioration in his condition, his brother added.

After his Olympic participation, Abu Marahel dedicated himself to coaching other Palestinian runners, including Nader el-Masri, who competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. His legacy as a coach and athlete continues to inspire many.

Since his groundbreaking participation, over 20 Palestinian athletes have had the opportunity to compete in the Olympics.

Killing of Athletes

According to the Palestine Olympic Committee, over 300 athletes, referees and sports officials have been killed since the start of the war on October 7. 

Additionally, all sports facilities and infrastructure in Gaza were demolished by Israeli occupation forces. 

Earlier this week, the president of the committee, Jibril Rajoub, told a press conference that at least six to eight Palestinian athletes are expected to compete in the Paris Games this summer and that three of them would likely be from Gaza.

Israel Out of the Olympics

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland on Friday to demand that Israel be barred from competing at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris amid the ongoing genocidal assault on Gaza.

The protesters held up a banner stating: “Let’s ban the genocidal Israeli state from the Olympic Games,” the Anadolu news agency reported.

They left red handprints on the building’s entrance to draw attention to the civilian casualties in Palestinian territory.

Protesters pointed out that the committee “only took a few days” to exclude Russia and Belarus from the 2022 Olympics over the war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022.

‘Genocidal State’ – IOC Urged to Bar Israel from Olympic Games in Paris

Ongoing Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 37,296 Palestinians have been killed, and 85,197 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children. 

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba. 

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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