World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of Palestinian runners and foreign rivals turned out for the third Palestine Marathon on Friday, with the race won by Nader al-Masri of Gaza.
Masri, who has participated in 40 international contests including the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was denied a permit by Israeli authorities to travel to the occupied West Bank for the Palestine Marathon last year.
This year 46 runners from the Gaza Strip took part in the race in the Bethlehem area. The athletes ran two laps of the same route because the organizers couldn’t find 42 kilometers (26 miles) of uninterrupted road under the control of the Palestinian Authority, they said.
There was also a half-marathon and a 10-kilometer race. After winning the full marathon, Masri told Haaretz he was very excited just to receive a permit from the Israeli authorities to enter the West Bank for the competition. Still, his athletic future is unclear.
“I can’t talk about my plans for the future, training and competitions because I don’t know when they’ll let me go out again,” he said.
Since April 2008, the military authorities have let Masri leave via the Allenby Bridge to Jordan a number of times. He has set off for training abroad and to represent the Palestinians in international competitions such as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The marathon was held under the auspices of the Palestine Olympic Committee and the Right to Movement collective, which promotes the right to movement of Palestinians living under the occupation.
George Zeidan, a marathon organizer from East Jerusalem said “People start questioning why. What’s this wall? What are these refugee camps? We want to give people awareness — it’s the most important thing in Palestine.”
Regarding Israel’s refusal to allow the Palestinian beach soccer team to attend the Asian games, coach Imad al-Din Hashem told a Gisha researcher: “We trained hard and enthusiastically to get to the championship. We dreamed of winning and heading for the finals in Portugal, but under the circumstances we won’t be able to play in the finals and FIFA won’t be able to classify us as a team.”Last Mod: 29 Mart 2015, 16:37