World Bulletin / News Desk
“Six thousand runners from 47 countries -- including Turkey, the U.S., the U.K., South Africa, France and Italy -- are participating in today’s run,” event spokesman Ahmad al-Ali told Anadolu Agency.
“Another 500 people with disabilities are also participating,” he said.
Held under the banner “Freedom of Movement”, the marathon kicked off at Bethlehem’s historic Church of the Nativity after which participants ran alongside Israel’s West Bank separation barrier and through eastern Bethlehem’s Aida Palestinian refugee camp.
“The marathon includes a total of four races: a 10-kilometer run, a 21-kilometer run and a 42-kilometer run,” al-Ali said. “There is also a short three-kilometer run for families.”
Samer Amerih, a 32-year-old Palestinian from Jerusalem, is taking part in this year’s marathon along with five of his relatives.
“This is the first year I’m running in the marathon,” he said. “It's very exciting.”
“It’s a great opportunity for Palestinians to bring attention to the freedom of movement violations they regularly face due to Israel’s separation wall and army checkpoints,” Amerih added.
Chipo Mupande, a 42-year-old South African national arrived in Palestine earlier this week specifically to participate in this year’s marathon.
“I’m here to support the Palestinian cause against the apartheid regime practiced by Israel against the Palestinian people,” she told Anadolu Agency.
“I’m here -- along with my husband -- to say ‘no’ to the [Israeli] occupation and ‘yes’ to freedom for Palestine,” she said.