Runners and observers gather at Manger Square for the marathon’s start.

HCEF Participates in Bethlehem's Second Annual Palestine International Marathon
Early last Friday, April 11, 2014, Palestine kicked off its second international marathon in Bethlehem. 2,500 runners from 38 different countries participated in the race. Included among them was HCEF’s own Communications Intern, John Hanna, who completed his first half marathon. 


The marathon’s title, “Right to Movement,” conveys the event’s main message, thatthe right to movement is a basic right of all humans, stipulated in Article 13 of the UN Human Rights Charter. Part of the marathon’s purpose is to focus international attention on how this basic right is denied to Palestinians everyday due to Israeli occupation. This reality is built into the race itself, which takes runners from the starting/ending point at the historic Church of the Nativity, along the 26-foot-high separation wall, through two refugee camps, and finally to an Israeli checkpoint where runners turn back toward the church. Full marathon runners must run this route twice, highlighting the fact that a complete 42-kilometer track could not be found in occupied Palestine, which is carved up by over 500 Israeli checkpoints and around 150 illegal settlements that make 43% of the West Bank inaccessible to Palestinians. 

John Hanna, HCEF’s Communications Intern, pushes through the final stretch.

But the purpose of this race goes beyond the conflict between Israel and Palestine. It is also meant to show the international community that Palestinians are like any other group of people. Their identity is not determined by the occupation, but rather by the ways they engage with the world, such as running a marathon with family and friends. 

For more information on the marathon, visit:


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