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In Photos:
In Photos: Right to Movement Palestine marathon

April 1, 2016 12:19 P.M. (Updated: April 2, 2016 10:47 A.M.)
Right to Movement Palestine marathon, April 1, 2016. (MaanImages/Wajdi al-Jaafari)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Runners from across the world flocked to the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday for the fourth annual Palestine marathon, forced to circle the same route due to Israel's crippling restrictions on movement that made it impossible for marathon planners to find a contiguous 42-kilometer stretch for the race.

While around 4,400 runners participated in this year's marathon -- more than a third than the year before -- Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were unable to participate after Israel refused to grant travel permits.

The Palestinian Authority reportedly requested permits for some 102 Palestinians from Gaza to run, but Israel's Coordination for Government Activities in the Territories implied that the PA submitted the requests on short notice to deliberately cause "provocation and delegitimize Israel."

UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities Robert Piper participated in this year's marathon, but expressed disappointment that runners from Gaza -- including the winner of last year's race, Nader al Masri -- had been prevented from joining.

Piper said the marathon drew attention to Palestinians' need for their right to movement and said: "The restrictions on freedom of movement imposed by Israel on the occupied Palestinian territory permeate almost all facets of everyday life and continue to separate Palestinians and fragment the territory."

Palestinian and international runners set off from the Church of Nativity -- the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ -- and made their way past Bethlehem's refugee camps, historic and religious sites, and Israel's vast military infrastructure.

MaanImages

MaanImages

MaanImages

MaanImages/Wajdi al-Jaafari

MaanImages/Wajdi al-Jaafari

MaanImages/Wajdi al-Jaafari

MaanImages/Chloe Benoist

MaanImages/Chloe Benoist

MaanImages/Chloe Benoist

MaanImages/Chloe Benoist

*MaanImages/Wajdi al-Jaafari#

MaanImages/Wajdi al-Jaafari

MaanImages/Wajdi al-Jaafari

MaanImages/Wajdi al-Jaafari

MaanImages/Chloe Benoist
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