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Israeli and Palestinian running battles?

Israel prevents an Olympic athlete from the Gaza Strip from competing in a marathon in the occupied West Bank.

Last updated: 11 Apr 2014 19:01
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A marathon in the occupied West Bank is raising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Two-and-a-half thousand people took part in the Palestine Marathon on Friday. The event was inaugurated in 2013 as an expression of statehood and the Palestinians' right to free movement.

But 30 runners from the Gaza Strip were prevented from taking part, including Palestinian Olympic runner Nader Al-Masri, who competed in the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Written notification of the refusal was made available by the Israeli human rights watchdog Gisha. It said: "At the present time, in view of the current diplomatic-security situation, the entry of residents of the Gaza Strip to Israel is not allowed except in exceptional humanitarian cases, with emphasis on urgent medical cases."

Al-Masri told Al Jazeera of his frustrations, saying: "I felt very disapointed and very upset because I've been preparing myself for more than two months. The Israeli side shouldn't mix politics and sport, I am an athlete, I'm just representing my country."

So can the Israeli decision to stop runners from Gaza from taking part be justified on security grounds, or is the decision politically motivated?

Presenter: Hazem Sika

Guests:

Signe Smidt, the co-founder of Right to Movement, who helped organise the Palestine Marathon.

Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

Eitan Diamond, the executive director of the human rights group, Gisha.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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