Gazan olympic runner blocked from joining marathon

9 Apr


Gazan olympic runner Nader Masri have been prevented from participating in a West Bank marathon by an Israeli court. Masri said, “This marathon is important to me, it will be the first time I can take part in the Palestinian marathon and meet friends I only talk to on the phone,” he said. “I have crossed Erez numerous times. I am a Palestinian athlete and I have won several awards. I have nothing to do with politics and I do not know why Israel denied me a permit.”

TRANSLATION OF THE ABOVE VIDEO INTERVIEW – Nader al-Masri, Palestinian Olympian from the Gaza Strip (Arabic): “The main problem is that the Gaza Strip, from Rafah to Beit Hanoun, measures a distance of 45 kilometers, and I practice a Marathon of 42 kilometers. So I am suffering because the lack of space is not allowing me to train, I need more space. In addition to that I am suffering from the lack of stability in the country and from the siege.”

“The Bethlehem marathon is important for me, because it is an historical marathon on both local and international levels, so I wish to participate and leave my mark there.”

” I ask all concerned Palestinian officials in the domain of sports to help me get the permission to travel to Bethlehem.”

Aljazeera report, 8 April 2014:

Israel’s high court has upheld a decision by the military to prevent a Gaza Olympian from leaving the coastal strip to participate in a marathon in the West Bank, another Palestinian territory.

Tuesday’s ruling ends hopes of 34-year-old Nader Masri to participate in Friday’s marathon in Bethlehem.

Masri, who participated in the 2008 Olympics, says he is disappointed because he hoped to compete against runners outside Gaza.

Israel has severely restricted the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza since Hamas took control over the Palestinian territory in 2007.

The restrictions are also enforced by Gaza’s neighbour Egypt.

Israel says only humanitarian hardship cases are allowed to leave Gaza.

The judges say they cannot interfere in the military’s decisions but that it should consider easing the travel ban.

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