Local activists have expressed their anger after the UK immigration service denied visas to Palestinian athletes due to compete in Sunday’s Derry marathon.
Gaza-based Nader al Massri and Sami Nateel had been due to arrive in Derry on Friday but their plans have now been halted due to the visa refusal which the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (I.P.S.C.) has branded “inexplicable”.
“We are hugely disappointed and angered at this decision. There was a large group of Palestinians who came to the Derry marathon last year and it was a massive success so we find it inexplicable that the immigration service would deny them the right to travel this year,” said Derry I.P.S.C. spokesperson Catherine Hutton.
“Like everyone who lives on the Gaza strip, Nader and Sami face huge restrictions every day of their lives due to the Israeli blockade. But it is highly ironic that, on this occasion at least, the Israelis were willing to allow them to travel to Derry but it is the UK authorities who have denied them entry.”
Israel isn't blocking the Gaza marathoners from traveling - the UK is.
This local newspaper article is apparently the only place to find out about this ban.
In contrast, in April 2014 Israel didn't allow Nader al Masri from running in a marathon in Bethlehem and that refusal resulted in a prominent New York Times story (as well as a major Al Jazeera story) about how Israel is blocking freedom of movement.
Al Masri ran and won the Bethlehem marathon last year. This year, Gazans were not able to participate in that marathon, but it was because the paperwork to apply for their travel permits was not filled out in time according to Israeli officials.
No articles in the BBC about the British government decision to stop a Gazan from entering. Nothing in the Guardian or Independent.
I wonder why.
UNRWA used to hold an annual marathon in Gaza but quietly dropped it when Hamas insisted that no women run with the men. In that case, they were being respectful to local traditions at the expense of women's rights.
Only certain perceived violations of rights are newsworthy. And by sheer coincidence, a large percentage of those news stories blame Israel.
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