Bethlehem, Palestine – Thousands of people have taken part in the Palestine Marathon, an annual event in the Bethlehem area of West Bank.
Like in previous years, the marathon on Friday – the event’s sixth edition – attracted people from all over the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as abroad.
For many foreigners, the event represents an opportunity to visit Palestine for the first time and witness the conditions Palestinians are living in.
“This is fantastic feeling today; to be here and to stand with Palestinians,” said Deena, a 29-year-old from England.
“We walk alongside the wall, we see the segregated land. We see Aida refugee camp and its poverty, but we also feel how wonderful are Palestinians. This is my first time in Palestine, and I feel ashamed I was so ignorant. It’s important to show solidarity”, added Deena.
The website of the event state that its objective is “to focus the lens on the basic right to move freely in Palestine”.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are more than 500 obstacles – checkpoints, roadblocks, earth mounds, etc – across West Bank roads which restrict Palestinian vehicular movement.
These also restrict the movement of marathon participants. In order to complete the 42km race, participants have to complete two loops of the same route to avoid encountering Israeli military checkpoints or settlements.
Some use the even to highlight the violation of human rights by carrying signs in solidarity with Palestinians.
The marathon is also a way to promote tourism in Palestine, and there are many activities organised around the event.
Some 7,000 people registered to take part in this year’s marathon, which was won by Ukrainian Yuri Vladigier.