UN agency cancels Gaza marathon over Hamas ban on women
Published Tuesday 05/03/2013 (updated) 10/03/2013 09:41
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Tuesday announced that the 2013 Gaza marathon has been canceled, after the Hamas government refused to allow women to participate.
"This disappointing decision follows discussions with the authorities in Gaza who have insisted that no women should participate," a statement from UNRWA said.
"Registered participants who still wish to come to Gaza are welcome and UNRWA is working on a programme of other events, which will be forwarded to those interested as soon as possible.".
Hamas said in a statement that it regrets UNRWA's decision to cancel the marathon.
"We informed UNRWA that we agreed to hold the marathon, but with conditions related to the conservative Palestinian culture."
Around 3,000 people took part in the event last year, with professional athletes and amateurs rubbing shoulders to run the 42 kilometer long race.
The aim of the marathon was to raise funds for UNRWA's summer games, which provide activities and events for children in the coastal territory.
The marathon took place in 2011 and 2012 without any restrictions.
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah in 2007, splitting the factions into separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In May 2011, a deal was signed to reunite the West Bank and Gaza, but has yet to be implemented.