Israel refuses to allow Gazans from joining Palestine Marathon

Israeli authorities deny permits to over hundred Palestinian runners from Gaza Strip to take part in Palestine Marathon

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Israel has denied entry permits to over a hundred Palestinians from the Gaza Strip seeking to take part in the Palestine Marathon after an administrative dispute, officials said Thursday.

Among the Gazans prevented from travelling ahead of Friday's marathon in the West Bank was reigning champion and Olympian Nader al-Masri.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the forms for 102 runners from Gaza were "submitted in too short notice and given a timeframe which is not the adequate amount of time for dealing with such requests."

George Zeidan, one of the organisers of the "Right to Movement" marathon, said an initial list of 750 names was rejected. When a shorter one was sent it was then refused for being too late, he added.

The marathon takes place on Friday and will see thousands of people start running from near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

The Gisha NGO, which campaigns for freedom of movement for Palestinians, said civilians had been caught in an administrative dispute.

"We are disappointed, if not surprised, to hear that civilians in Gaza are again paying the price for the apparent negligence and disregard of both Israeli and Palestinian officials," a statement said.

Gaza and the West Bank, both considered parts of a future Palestinian state, do not share a border and anyone wishing to travel between the two must traverse Israel.