Thursday, 18 April 2013

Israel bars Gaza runners from Bethlehem marathon

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has refused to grant permission to 26 runners from the Gaza Strip to travel to the West Bank to run in the first Bethlehem marathon on April 21, officials said on Thursday.

The race, which begins at the Nativity Church, is the first event of its kind in the West Bank with more than 400 people registered to run, half of whom are Palestinians, organizers say.

But a group of runners from the Gaza Strip who signed up for the race, have been denied permission to travel by the COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit responsible for coordinating civilian affairs with the Palestinians.

According to Gisha, an Israeli watchdog which works to facilitate Palestinian freedom of movement, the group includes Olympic runner Nader al-Masri and another four people who had registered to run the full 26 miles and six who signed up for the 21.1 km half marathon.

The group also includes at least one woman runner and four trainers. more

Limited building supplies to enter Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Thursday opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing in northern Gaza for limited import and export, a Palestinian Authority official told Ma'an.

The 450 trucks entering Gaza include cement, iron, gas and building material and other goods, said PA liaison officer Raed Fattuh. Flowers and herbs destined for Europe will also travel through the border.

Farmers in the Gaza Strip on Sunday destroyed three tons of rotten herbs and spices that were to be shipped to markets in Europe before Israel closed the border crossings.

Muhammad Zuweid, a marketing official in Gaza, told Ma'an that three tons of mint, sage, basil, and tarragon were ready to be exported to Europe and waiting at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

After days of closure, the goods expired and became unsafe to use, he said. more