Thousands compete in Gaza marathon despite cold weather

People compete in the Gaza marathon in strong winds Many participants ran shorter sections of the 42km race

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Thousands of runners have taken part in the Gaza Strip's second-ever marathon, which covered the whole length of the Palestinian territory.

Palestinian runner Nader al-Masri won for the second time in a row, beating competitors from around the world.

Other participants - mostly schoolchildren - ran shorter portions of the 42km (26 mile) route.

The competitors braved cold weather and strong winds, which whipped up sand from the beaches.

"I'm very happy," Mr Masri told the AFP news agency after finishing the race from Beit Hanun to Rafah.

"I think we have sent a message that we hope will reach the world. It's a step towards making the world aware of the tragedy of the Palestinian people," he added.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa), which organised the event, said it aimed to highlight the ongoing "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza.

The agency has repeatedly criticised Israel's blockade of the Hamas-run territory.

Israel says the measure is necessary to prevent Hamas militants from obtaining weapons and funds.

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