Israeli authorities blocked off major roads today in the occupied city of East Jerusalem to make way for the 12th annual Israeli marathon, which started this morning, reported Wafa news agency.
Dozens of main roads in Jerusalem were closed for the marathon, starting from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood through the Jerusalem-Hebron Road, located south of the city, as well as roads leading up to the Al-Aqsa, resulting in major traffic jams.
A Wafa correspondent reported that heavily-armed Israeli soldiers patrolling the streets stopped Palestinian commuters on their way to perform Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque to inspect their identity cards.
Hamas spokesman, Mohammed Hamadeh, said in a statement, that organising a marathon in collaboration with other pro-settlement organisations is a desperate attempt to impose Israeli control on Al-Quds.
“These plans will not change the Arab and Islamic Identity of Al-Quds,” he said, calling on athletes from around the world to boycott Israel.
Hamas Political Bureau member, Maher Salah, added that the marathon was arranged in a way to prevent Palestinian worshippers from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque as it coincides with the Friday prayer.
According to The Times of Israel, approximately 30,000 runners from Israel and across the globe joined the annual Israeli marathon today.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognised by the international community.