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Israeli forces close East Jerusalem streets for marathon, detain 4

March 18, 2016 12:10 P.M. (Updated: March 18, 2016 6:19 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli authorities early Friday shut down streets across Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem and detained four in preparation for the annual Jerusalem marathon, locals said.

Locals told Ma'an that a number of roads were blocked by iron barricades and buses, as thousands of Israeli runners joined in the marathon for the sixth year in a row.

Four residents of al-Issawiya neighborhood were detained prior to the marathon. Two of them, identified by locals as Fadi Matwar and Jad al-Ghoul, were reportedly warned against being in Jerusalem during the marathon.

Al-Issawiya popular committee spokesman Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, who was detained prior to the marathon last year, was also detained Friday morning.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli intelligence also summoned Jihad Oweida, the secretary-general of the National Committee against Normalization. The committee has in the past been a vocal opponent of the Jerusalem marathon for going through occupied territory.

Participants in the marathon run through West Jerusalem as well as segments of Jerusalem's occupied eastern half, including along the walls of the Old City and near other historical sites.

The marathon last year drew large numbers of Palestinian protesters to places where the run passes through neighborhoods under Israeli military occupation, with residents waving Palestinian flags and proclaiming slogans supporting Palestinian claims to Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory, but Israel occupied it in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never considered legitimate abroad.

Friday's marathon comes weeks before an annual marathon is expected to be held in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

This year will mark the fourth consecutive “Right to Movement” marathon, which is comprised of two 11 kilometer loops, as race organizers were unable to find a contiguous stretch of 42 kilometers due to Israeli military restrictions on Palestinian movement.

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