BETHLEHEM, West Bank — The runners looped four times through this city, following a route that took them from the Church of the Nativity, traditionally considered Christ’s birthplace, down Bethlehem’s main avenue and alongside Israel’s looming separation barrier, scrawled with graffiti and blackened from hurled projectiles.
The Palestine Marathon, held last week, is a hemmed-in affair, much like the city where it is run. “In Bethlehem, there’s not a continuous 42 kilometers,” huffed Marwa Younis, 32, as she ran. “You have to run back and forth.”
But that is exactly why the organizers of the Right to Movement: Palestine Marathon chose to stage it here. What better way to draw attention to the constraints Palestinians say they face in their daily lives?
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“We want to send a message that we don’t have the right to movement — we are occupied and have the apartheid wall,” said an organizer, Diala Isid, referring to Israel’s 26-foot-high separation barrier, which surrounds the city on three sides. “So we thought, ‘Let’s make an international marathon.’ ”