Hundreds of Palestinians gathered at the Church of
the Nativity square when the start of the Marathon for peace was
announced on Thursday Morning.
The Marathon ended at the Franciscan Monastery in Zion Mount in Jerusalem.
At least one hundred Palestinian, Italian and Israeli runners joined
the marathon that is organized in memoriam of the late his holiness
Pope John Paul II who passed away on April 2.
The idea was initiated by the Italian Opera Ramato that was sponsored
by the Late Pope. The Catholic Church in the Holy Land supervised
and coordinated the Marathon.
Italian Foreign Ministry and Vatican representatives in addition to
Palestinian officials attended the start of the Marathon.
Palestinian Minister of tourism Ziad Al-Bandak said, this marathon is a
sign that both the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples are striving for
peace that can be achieved only by ending the occupation and building
the Palestinian State beside Israel.
The marathon went through the streets of Bethlehem towards Rachel Tomb
in city, then to Jerusalem. The runners had to bypass
Rachel tomb as they were not allowed to run on the main road by Rachel
The Israeli runners met the Marathon at the Bethlehem checkpoint from
Jerusalem side, as the Israeli army does not allow Israelis to come
into Bethlehem except to Rachel Tomb.
At the end of the Marathon the runners were honored a prize by the
Vatican ambassador to Israel and Israeli Ministry of Tourism officials.