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Israel launches International Marathon in Jerusalem

March 18, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Israel launched the Sixth International Marathon today amid tight security and Palestinian anger.

A spokesman for the Israeli police, Luba Simari, said in a written statement that nearly 1,000 police officers supported by more than 800 security elements who were deployed this morning in Jerusalem to secure the marathon.

As many as 25,000 runners from around the world, including 600 Israeli police officers were due to participate in the event.

The advisor to the Palestinian president, Ahmad Al-Rwaidy, told the Anadolu Agency that the marathon sends a political message that Israel, the occupying power, is the sovereign state in the city.

“The marathon is another attempt to destroy the two-state solution by sending a message that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and this is unacceptable; there is no two-state solution without East Jerusalem as capital for the Palestinian state.”

In the meantime, several Palestinians have complained that the marathon arrangements prevent Muslims from accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform Friday prayers.

Hossam Natsheh, a resident of Beit Hanina neighbourhood, north of Jerusalem, told the Anadolu that Israeli police closed streets linking the northern part of the city with the old town forcing Muslim worshippers to pass through narrow and long streets to reach Jerusalem to pray.

“The marathon arrangements did not take into account that there are Muslims in this city who want to pray and will not be able to because of the marathon,” he said.

On Wednesday, Israeli authorities cancelled a weekly visit allowing elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to travel to occupied East Jerusalem for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian liaison officials.