Over 10,000 Palestinian and international runners arrived in Bethlehem on Friday to participate in the Eighth International Palestine Marathon, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
The marathon started at the Church of Nativity taking the runners through the city, the two refugee camps of Aida and Dheisheh and along the Israeli apartheid wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.
There hasn’t been a marathon in Bethlehem for three years, but today British Consulate colleagues joined thousands of Palestinians running the #PalestineMarathon in #Bethlehem. The UK ran today in support of freedom of movement for all. pic.twitter.com/lpTtemNhHG
— UKinJerusalem🇬🇧 (@UKinJerusalem) March 18, 2022
It included four tracks; the full 42-kilometer race, a 21-kilometer race, a 10-kilometer race and the five-kilometer family race.
Held for the first time on April 21, 2013, the Palestine Marathon is held this year, 2022, after two years of cancellation due to the pandemic.
Today @SwedeninJERU participated in the Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem, with the purpose of highlighting the lack of freedom of movement for Palestinians. Good energy by all the participating runners!🏃🏻♀️🏃🏽 pic.twitter.com/efz5uP0rPd
— Sweden in Jerusalem (@SwedeninJERU) March 18, 2022
According to the marathon’s coordinator, Itidal Abdul Ghani, there are over 10,000 Palestinian and international athletes, including 1,150 internationals representing 80 states. Female athletes account for 50 percent of the total number of athletes.
The Palestine Olympic Committee, which sponsored the event, said that the “event shows the international community another side of Palestinians; it creates international awareness of the Palestinian story, increases knowledge of Palestinian life, culture, and hospitality, and builds understanding across cultures. Moreover, the annual marathon adds value to the Palestinian economy and the tourism sector.”
— الشارقة24 (@sharjah24) March 23, 2018
It added that the marathon provides international athletes with the opportunity to “hit” Israel’s apartheid wall, which “prevents Palestinians from exercising their basic human right to freedom of movement and separates them from their land and from each other,” not to mention other movement impediments, namely the complex combination of military checkpoints and Gaza’s blockade.
(WAFA, PC, Social Media)