Israeli forces detain French, Palestinian marathon "Fair Trade" runners

12:00 Feb 4 2012 Kiryat Arba

Israeli forces detain French, Palestinian marathon "Fair Trade" runners
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli police detained three marathon-runners near Hebron on Saturday, including two French nationals, witnesses said.

The three men were later released, but Palestinian Nasser Abu Farha, 47, was told he will face a hearing in June on charges of organizing an illegal demonstration, he told Ma'an.

The runners were taking part in a marathon from Hebron to Jenin organized by Fair Trade groups and US-based community development group On the Ground.

Abu Farha said 10 US citizens would run the length of the course, joined by Palestinians and other internationals along the way.

The project aims to raise awareness and support for small farming communities and Fair Trade practices across the West Bank, On the Ground's website says. They planted 500 olive saplings in southern Hebron village al-Tuwani before the beginning the marathon on Saturday, which will run for five days.

Israeli police approached the group on Road 60 near Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba, Abu Farha said, where they threatened to arrest him if any of the runners touched the road.

"They ran in the dirt to avoid the road, but the police arrested me anyway," he told Ma'an.

Later, police arrested two French nationals who were released inside Kiryat Arba and assaulted by Israel settlers, he said.

An Israeli police spokesman said he was looking into the incident.
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