Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Gaza Marathon Scrapped as Hamas Bans Women

The main United Nations agency in Gaza has cancelled the annual marathon in the small Palestinian territory after ruling Hamas Islamists banned women from the race.

Hamas said having women in the annual event, scheduled for April 10, contravened Islamic tradition even though dozens of Palestinian schoolgirls had started the two previous marathons.

“This disappointing decision follows discussions with the authorities in Gaza, who have insisted that no women should participate,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which sponsors the race, said in a statement.

This year’s field of 1,500 schoolchildren and 800 adults was to have included a record number of women – 260 Palestinians and 119 foreigners, UNRWA said. The children’s participation is symbolic – they begin the race but run only a few hundred metres, while the adults do the full 42 km (26 miles).

“The marathon was an annual event to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and to raise funds for summer camps organised by UNRWA which serve at least 250,000 schoolchildren,” said Adnan Abu Hasna, the agency’s media adviser in Gaza.

Relations between UNRWA and Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 and is shunned by the West over its hostility towards Israel, have been strained at times.

Some Hamas officials have accused UNRWA of failing to include representatives of the Gaza government when UNRWA has hosted meetings with international visitors. Several Hamas lawmakers have been critical of the curriculum in UNRWA-run schools.

Founded in 1949, UNRWA provides food and other emergency assistance to more than two-thirds of the 1.6 million population in the cramped, coastal territory.

Human rights groups have accused Hamas of pressuring women to cover their heads in public and using police to harass young couples in the streets and on beaches. Hamas has denied it is trying to enforce any modesty code.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.