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Israelis, Palestinians run 'peace marathon'


JERUSALEM (RNS/ENI) Former Italian volleyball world champion Andrea Zorzi was one of 50 Italian runners who joined about 100 Israelis and Palestinians in the sixth annual Pope John Paul II Peace Marathon on April 23 that concluded in Jerusalem.

It was held in advance of the scheduled pilgrimage in May to the Holy Land by Pope Benedict XVI. The marathon is an initiative of the Israel Ministry of Tourism and CSI, the Italian Sports Association. It pits competitors from Italy and runners from Bethlehem and Israel.

The marathon began at Manger Square in Bethlehem, with Palestinian and Italian runners leisurely running down the early morning streets. Israel does not permit its citizens to enter Palestinian territories for security reasons.

Upon the arrival of the runners at the Bethlehem checkpoint near Rachelís Tomb half an hour after the marathon began, the Italian and Palestinian runners were met by Israeli runners. The three groups then continued to the final point of the marathon in downtown Jerusalem across from the Old City wall.