For many Palestinians, the marathon was a day of fun in the usually morose West Bank. Thousands of Palestinians and foreigners crowded into the city’s central Manger Square; the Church of the Nativity on one side, a mosque on the other.
Boys performed back flips as others danced to Taylor Swift, Stromae and thumping Palestinian songs. Crowds hooted as red, black, green and white balloons, the colors of the Palestinian flag, were released. Grinning Palestinian Girl Scouts in beige uniforms could barely stay in formation.
“I am so excited!” said one of the scouts. “The atmosphere — it’s the first time for me! Everybody is so happy! There’s music, and we will play!” She was cut off by a supervisor, blowing on a whistle to order the girls into line.