Gaza Marathon Canceled After Women Banned

Hamas event shut down by U.N. aid agency

Ryan O'Hanlon

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A good way to get your marathon canceled is to ban women from running, Hamas learned earlier today. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency canceled the Gaza marathon after Hamas rulers barred women from participating in the annual race.

“UNRWA regrets to announce that it has canceled the third Gaza marathon which was to be held on 10 April,” the agency said in a statement. “This follows the decision by the authorities in Gaza not to allow women to participate.” 

The response from Hamas—which has banned women from riding on the backs of motorcycles and men from working in hair salons—was predictable: 

“We regret this decision to cancel the marathon but we don’t want men and women running together,” Abdessalam Siyyam, cabinet secretary of the Hamas government, told AFP news agency.

“We did not tell UNRWA to cancel the marathon and we haven’t prevented it, but we laid down some conditions: We don’t want women and men mixing in the same place,” he added.

The race, which included women last year, would’ve raised money for U.N. summer camps for children in Gaza.

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