11 April '14..
Kicking up dust on the back roads of northern Gaza within sight of the Israeli fence that seals off the enclave, Olympic athlete Nader Al Masri is still training, despite being barred from competing in his people's largest sporting event.
Masri, who has participated in 40 international contests including the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was denied a permit by Israeli authorities to travel to the occupied West Bank for the Palestine Marathon on Friday.
"I'm sad. This is a race for all Palestine and I wanted to participate, but unfortunately the Israeli side coldly rejected me," said the 34-year-old policeman.
Ah, having a consistent policy in who can enter your country is now considered "cold rejection."
The New York Times - in a front page story - gives a slightly more accurate account:
In denying Mr. Masri’s permit request — made through Gisha, an Israeli group advocating free movement — the Israeli government said in a March 30 letter that “the present diplomatic/security situation” meant that Gaza residents could cross into Israel only “in exceptional humanitarian cases.”
One of the organizers of the marathon disingenuously claims to the New York Times that the event is not political:
“It illustrates the whole concept,” said Lise Ring, one of the two Danish women who founded the Palestine Marathon, which is expected to draw 3,000 runners this year, half from the West Bank. “We want people from around the world to see a Palestine that’s not about the conflict,” she said. “But it’s hard to say ‘Palestine’ without talking politics.”
This is of course a lie.
The entire purpose of the marathon is meant to be a political weapon against Israel.