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6,000 run in Dead Sea marathon amid Gaza war

Among the participants and onlookers were the families and friends of some 136 hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza.

6,000 runners participate in the 5th Dead Sea Marathon, Feb. 2, 2024. Photo by Oren Alon.
6,000 runners participate in the 5th Dead Sea Marathon, Feb. 2, 2024. Photo by Oren Alon.

In a show of resilience and unity amid Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas, 6,000 runners took part in the 5th Dead Sea Marathon on Friday.

Among the participants and onlookers were the families and friends of some 136 hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza, IDF soldiers undergoing rehabilitation after sustaining injuries in the fighting and residents of southern Israel who have been evacuated to Dead Sea hotels.

Shaul Levy, 78, whose granddaughter Naama Levy was taken hostage by Hamas, said: “During this run, we transferred crazy energy to the captive—hold on a little longer, don’t lose hope. We will bring you home.”

Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz said the marathon “symbolizes more than ever the victory of the body, soul and spirit. It is a symbol of the willpower and the tremendous love of life of the State of Israel and its citizens.

“The Dead Sea is a wonderful natural phenomenon in the lowest place in the world. From here, you can only go up. I hope that also on the national level, the huge crisis of Oct. 7 will be followed by great light, beginning with the return home of all the hostages.”

The course offered runners a unique experience, along an embankment built into the sea that serves as a border between Israel and Jordan and is closed to the general public during the rest of the year.

The race included 5 kilometer (3.1 mile), 10 kilometer (6.2 mile), 21.1 kilometer (13.1 mile), 42 kilometer (26.1 mile )and 50 kilometer (30.1 mile) routes.

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