Israeli marathon in West Bank to shut down main highway

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities will close the Ramallah-Nablus road on Thursday as settlers take part in a marathon, a Palestinian official said Tuesday.

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said that the marathon will pass through the Ariel settlement and extend to the Shilo settlement.

The course of the marathon, called the “Bible Marathon,” was based on a run performed by a biblical figure Benjamin in the book of Samuel, according to the official Marathon website.

The Shilo settlement which will hold the marathon finish line and after-marathon festivities is home to just under 3,000 Jewish-only residents, and is considered illegal under international law.

More than a quarter of Shilo was built on private Palestinian land, according to Israeli human rights group Peace Now, and has been cited in past peace negotiations as an area to be transferred to Palestinian control.

The Ramallah-Nablus road, also marked as Route 60, is a main North-South arterial in the occupied West Bank, is expected to be closed from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians have not been able to travel freely on Route 60, which is spotted with Israeli checkpoints when the road passes from areas under Palestinian Authority or Israeli military control.

In addition to checkpoints, Israeli authorities established several ‘bypass roads’, enabling Israel traffic to bypass areas of Route 60 that passed through Palestinian jurisdiction.

Thursday’s marathon will fall less than two weeks after the “Right to Movement” marathon which took place in Bethlehem last month.

Marathon participants ran loops of an 11 kilometer route, as race organizers were unable to find any contiguous stretch of 42 kilometers which Palestinians were able to travel on.