Bethlehem –Palestine -The youth and women groups in ActionAid Palestine (AAP) demanded to remove the Israeli restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement in Occupied Palestinian territory(oPt) in West Bank in the south of West Bank. This marathon has been delayed for two years due to COVID-19, while it was organized to attract the attention of the world to suffering of Palestinians resulting from Israeli practices impeding the freedom of movement of Palestinians. It is also a mean for protesting checkpoints that were imposed on Bethlehem. This marathon also aimed at attracting the attention of the world to different aspects of the Palestinian cause including cultural, heritage, social and political by passing through different stations in Bethlehem. The runners ran next to the barrier and refugee camps of Aida, Dheisheh reflecting the forcible displacement of Palestinians from their lands after Nakbba in 1948.
AAP joined the international and local organizations that support international Palestinian Marathon that is organized by the Palestinian Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs. Our goal of participation is to promote the participation of Palestinian women and youth in this marathon through a group of activities that were organized before and during the marathon.
AAP supported more than 15 young entrepreneurs whose their projects were funded through AAP’s projects to present their projects and market their products during marathon village that was organized during days before the start of marathon. Volunteers of AAP’s youth groups helped the management of marathon to finalize the preparations taken before the start of marathon. On the day of Marathon, volunteers assisted in organizing and guiding participants and distributing medals to the winners. APP also supported the participation a number of Palestinian young people from different governorates in Palestine.
AAP also supported a number of stations on the route of marathon including the tent of Sheikh Jarrah to shed the light on the issue of forcible displacement in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The runners stopped in this tent to show solidarity with residents of this neighborhood. AAP also supported another station for Palestinian popular dabkeh dances to introduce the world to Palestinian heritage and its role in promoting the Palestinian identity.
Speaking at the event, the country director of APP, Ibrahim Ibraigheth said: “the support of this marathon serves APP’s mission and vision of supporting and advocating the rights of the Palestinian people and strengthen their resilience. Our partnership with the management of marathon is part of our advocacy efforts we exert to attract the attention of the world to violations of human rights in oPt”.
A young man, Mahmoud Itmiza from Hebron said: “our Palestinian people have been suffering from restrictions of movement for long decades due to polices of Israeli occupation. Palestine Marathon is a peaceful mean for protest and conveying our message that our people are vibrant”.
Asalah is a Palestinian young woman living in Gaza Strip who was deprived from participating in Palestine Marathon. Asala said: “as a Palestinian young woman, one of my wishes is to visit our Palestinian cities since we are being deprived by Israeli occupation from visiting them. Hence, it is impossible for me to participate in Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem”.
Hamad Abu Ayyash from Hebron said: “we participated in Marathon to stress our right to freedom of movement that Israeli occupation violates. We are very happy to see youth from around the world and from Gaza Strip participating in this Marathon”.
Palestine Marathon was initiated for the first time in 2013 with participation of more than 1200 runners from Palestine and other countries in the world. However, marathon this year witnessed an increased participation on international and local levels including individuals and civil organizations. The number of runners in Palestine Marathon this year reached 10,000 participants.
Runners especially Arab runners face restriction to access Palestine to participate in Palestine marathon, while Palestinian runners from Gaza Strip face severe restrictions that prevent them from participating as they are denied access to pass through Israeli checkpoints imposed on borders of Gaza Strip.
ActionAid in Palestine (AAP) is a part of global federation working for social justice and gender equality and eradicate poverty in more than 45 countries around the world. AAP started its work in Palestine in 2007 to strengthen the resilience of Palestinian People as ActionAid believes that they should enjoy their rights to freedom, justice and self-determination. AAP implements a number of programs through its engagement with communities and women and youth groups seeking to empower them and enhance their influential civil and political participation to understand their rights and undertake collective activism to address the protracted rights violations resulting from the prolonged occupation of Palestine. AAP works simultaneously to enhance their leadership capacity and knowledge to practice their citizenship in holding authorities and other duty bearers to account.
For more information, please contact
Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication in Palestine
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+972 (0) (2) 22 13 137