Israel has denied an exit permit to leave Gaza to Nadar al- Masri, a Gazan runner aspiring to run in the Bethlehem marathon set for next Friday, Army Radio reported. Al-Masri, 34, previously competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, one of four athletes to represent the Palestinian Authority. He has been training five hours a day for the past fourteen years and says his intention is to leave Gaza, participate in the marathon and return."I am well known... I have participated in more than 50 competitions," he said. The runner has appealed Israel's decision not to grant him entry, telling Army Radio he has no history of security issues within the territory. Gisha, a human rights organization, is assisting al-Masri in petitioning the court to allow him to leave Gaza and enter Bethlehem.Israel, however, claims they denied him entry based on criteria they use for granting entry and exit to Gazans. They say he does not fit the criteria. "I'm 34 already. In two, three years, I'll retire," al-Masri said despairingly. For now, he will continue to train in Gaza.