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Holy Land: Israelis and Palestinians run for peace

 Competitors from Italy, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority took part last Thursday in the second annual Peace Marathon, this year dedicated to the memory of Pope John Paul II. Approximately 40 Italian and 20 Palestinian runners began the race at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. Just outside the city, Palestinian participant George Michel of Bethlehem passed the marathon torch to Israeli Faloro Eyal, who was among the 35 Jewish and Arab Israeli competitors who joined the run at Rosemarine Junction. Israeli schoolchildren showered the runners (Italian volleyball champs Andrea Zorzi and Roberto Masciarelli among them) with flowers. Yellow, white, and blue balloons were released into the air. Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson, Italian government Minister Mario Baccini, and Peace Marathon initiator Monsignor Lieberio Andreatta greeted the runners. Vatican Ambassador to Israel Monsignor Pietro Sambi thanked the runners for their "small, but meaningful gesture" and for "aspiring together for peace." He called the peace marathon "an example to the entire Middle East." Source: Israeli Embassy Public Affairs Office