A woman’s place is not in a marathon, at least not with men, says Hamas, whose ban on females running with males prompted UNRWA to canceling the annual Gaza marathon for the first time.
In announcing the cancellation of the April 10 marathon, UNRWA stated, “This disappointing decision follows discussions with the authorities in Gaza who have insisted that no women should participate.”
If Haredim had convinced Jerusalem officials to cancel this past Sunday’s marathon in the capital because of the presence of women runners, God forbid, Israel would have been condemned from every parliament in the country, outside of Iran and Egypt.
Foreign aid would have been threatened and thousands of tourists would have canceled trips to Israel in protest.
In Gaza, things work a bit differently.
UNRWA said it “regrets” the Hamas ban on women but not to worry. “Registered participants who still wish to come to Gaza are welcome and UNRWA is working on a program of other events, which will be forwarded to those interested as soon as possible.”
Hamas said the marathon could have proceeded as usual if “local traditions” were respected.
Apparently, tradition has changed, and Hamas has gone further in the direction of extreme Islam by banning women runners for the first time.
The BBC, instead of commiserating over the separation of sexes, told its readers, “Conservative elements in Gaza have sometimes complained about mixing between the sexes, especially in schools and at sporting events.”
Hamas, of course, blames UNRWA for calling off the race. “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,” Hamas’s cabinet secretary Abdessalam Siyyam told the AFP news agency.