I love running. I am free to go running whenever I wish and I am blessed to be able to run regularly by a beautiful river, minutes from my home.
Palestinians are not so blessed. They do not have the right to free movement. They have to have permits to visit religious sites that people from Europe can visit freely. Palestinians need written permission from the Israeli Authorities to go to the Al Asqa Mosque or to Rachel's Tomb. They can not freely visit friends or family in East Jerusalem , approximately 8 miles from Bethlehem. Footballers are prevented from travelling to Europe to play. It is not possible to travel 26, or even 13 miles, in Bethlehem, without going through a checkpoint which can take hours.
Israel uses the Absentee Landlord Law to appropriate Palestinian land. Planning permission is almost never given to Palestinians, so house demolition is a regular part of life under occupation.
So this is not just another race. This is an act of solidarity. This Race is a chance for Palestinians to welcome people from other nations to their land. They both participate in and support the race. I am sure I will find the hills of Bethlehem far more challenging than the Itchen Bridge or sleepy Southampton Common! But as I tackle those wonderful hills of Bethlehem I will remember the ongoing long and uphill struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom and national identity.
Amos Trust supports many worthwhile projects in Palestine but I want to briefly mention two close to my heart. The Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. It is a Christian hospital that treats anyone of all faiths and none. Because of the blockade of Gaza, almost no rebuilding has taken place since the bombardment of Gaza in 2014 and the hospital often struggles to maintain supplies.
Secondly The Holy Land Trust. The Holy Land trust offer various education courses to Palestinian youth. Courses in arts, drama, film making, conflict resolution and leadership skills. It lives out a vision of non-violence, what it terms "beautiful resistance," in the midst of oppression and conflict.
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