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Palestinian Marathon Defies Israeli Restrictions on Movement
   2015-03-28 16:50:54    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Yangyang

Palestinian children play drums on the Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem before the third 'Right to Movement' Palestine Marathon on Friday, March 27, 2015. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com / Zhang Jin]

By CRI Correspondent Zhang Jin from Bethlehem.


Over 3,000 Palestinian from 50 countries turned out for the third Palestine Marathon in the city of Bethlehem in West bank on Friday. The runners defied the barricades in the city and called for Palestinians' right to movement.

CRI's XYee has more.

Excited runners from both Palestine and abroad gathered on Friday morning at the Manger Square in front of the famous Church of the Nativity, to join the annual Palestine Marathon that is organized to call for the 'Right to Movement' of those living in the embattled West bank.

Twenty-year-old Mirna is a local resident.

"It is my first time and I'm excited about it. Everyone's here from all around the world. I hope they enjoy their time here, and know how this country is totally different from what they know about it, and how it's hopefully peaceful."

The marathon highlighted the restrictions on the rights of Palestinians' to move freely within their own territories.

Racers ran two laps of the same route, because organizers said they were unable to find 42 kilometers of uninterrupted road under the control of the Palestinian Authority due to the controversial wall built by Israel that cuts across the area.

Varaah and her disabled sister are two Palestinians who joined the event.

"I think right to movement is really important for all humans, but especially for Palestinians, because when you see Bethlehem from outside, you see the walls, the check points, and then you come here, inside Bethlehem, and you see there's marathon. This is to insist our right to movement, and it gives us more hope to move around Bethlehem and in whole Palestine."

Eitidal Ismail from the Palestine Olympic Committee, partner of the marathon, says the event gave an opportunity for people from around the world to understand the real situation in Palestine.

"When they run around the wall, the wall tells the true story of what the Palestinian people are suffering under the occupation. They come to support us as the logo of the marathon, 'Right to Movement', this is our right and we want to use it."

Danish Parliament member Johanne Schmidt was among the foreign supporters of the marathon.

"(It's) really a good way to put focus on the fact that Palestinian people don't have the right to move. I think a lot of us should know, we just take for granted that we can move, we can run, we can do whatever we want to, people in Palestine can't do that, because they keep getting checked by soldiers from Israel, (there are) checkpoints and the big wall."

And this year, for the first time, 48 runners from the Gaza Strip have been given permission from Israel to join the Palestine Marathon. Sami Nateel is one of them.

"This is the first time for us to come to Bethlehem. It's very very nice. We hope to come here not every year, but every month, every day, every hour. I am very happy to come to the West Bank. And we'd love to live in peace between us and the Israelis."

This year's marathon was won by Gaza runner Nader al-Masri, whose house was destroyed in last summer's war.

Masri, one of four Palestinian athletes to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, was competing in the marathon for the first time. Israeli authorities denied him permits to leave Gaza in the last two years.

For CRI, I'm XYee.

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