UN agency nixes Gaza marathon over ban on women

UNRWA says 'disappointing' decision comes after Hamas-ruled Gaza imposed ban, run had aimed to raise funds for Gaza children.

gaza marathon 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
gaza marathon 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Hamas government on Tuesday expressed regret over UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’s decision to cancel a marathon because of a ban on women’s participation.
The Hamas government defended its ban on women from running, saying, “We had informed UNRWA of our decision to allow the marathon to be held, but with some restrictions related to the traditions of the Palestinian people.”
The marathon was scheduled for April 10. The UN agency said that registered participants who still wish to come to Gaza are welcome and that UNRWA is working on a program that includes other events.
“UNRWA sincerely regrets the inconvenience this causes to those who planned to participate in the marathon,” the statement said.
For the past three years, the annual UNRWA Gaza Marathon had raised funds for UNRWA’s summer program for children in Gaza. In the past, local parents have praised the initiative as a welcome break from the difficulties of life in Gaza.
According to UNRWA, a total of 551 local people were due to participate in the Gaza Marathon, of which 266 are women. A total of 256 international runners, including 119 women, had signed up for the race.