Thousands run for freedom of movement in Palestine marathon
Bethlehem, March 23 (IANS) Thousands of Palestinian and international runners on Friday took part in the sixth edition of the Palestine marathon in Bethlehem, aiming to shed light on the movement restrictions imposed in the Palestinian territories.
Starting near the Church of the Nativity, the annual race took the participants through the city's landmarks as well as the Aida refugee camp, as they ran along the Israeli separation wall in an event the Palestinian Olympic Committee began sponsoring last year, reports Efe.
"I come every year and I am here to break the barriers that Palestinians have. We do not have the freedom to do what we want," Muhsen al-Homouz, originally from Bethlehem, told Efe. "But I am also here to support the sport and encourage everyone to join in."
Photographers captured the festive atmosphere of the race, showing the diverse group of participants including individual runners, families with children, elderly people and people with disabilities.
Music played at the starting and finishing point while many of the participants carried Palestinian flags and banners of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.
Around 7,000 runners, according to the news agency Maan, started the race at 8.00 am and went through the different categories of the event: the 42-kilometre marathon, the half marathon, the 10-kilometre race and the five-kilometre family run.
The marathon's cause of claiming the right to freedom of movement was best visually represented by the image of the participants running along the concrete wall which separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
The wall, built by Israel in 2003, cuts through the Palestinian territory of the West Bank and was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice a year after its construction.
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