Israel authorities close off major roads leading to Al-Aqsa for the Israeli marathon – Middle East Monitor

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Israeli authorities blocked major roads today in the occupied city of East Jerusalem to make way for the 12th annual Israel marathon, which started this morning, it was reported Wafa news agency.

Dozens of main roads in Jerusalem were closed for the marathon, starting from the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah through the Jerusalem-Hebron Road, located south of the city, as well as roads up to Al-Aqsa, resulting in major traffic jams.

A Wafa correspondent reported that heavily armed Israeli soldiers patrolling the streets stopped Palestinian commuters on their way to perform Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque to inspect their identity cards.

Hamas spokesman Mohammed Hamadeh said in a statement that organizing a marathon in collaboration with other pro-settlement organizations is a desperate attempt to impose Israeli control on Al-Quds.

“These plans will not change the Arab and Islamic Identity of Al-Quds,” he said, calling on athletes from around the world to boycott Israel.

A member of the Hamas Political Bureau, Maher Salah, said that the marathon was arranged in such a way as to prevent Palestinian worshipers from reaching the Al-Aqsa Mosque because it coincided with the Friday prayer.

According to Times of Israel, About 30,000 runners from Israel and around the globe joined the annual Israel marathon today.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in the world. Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying that it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognized by the international community.

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