Bethlehem's second annual marathon  was underway early Friday, with some 3,500 participants from Palestine and around the world participating . Bethlehem governor Abdel Fatah Hamayel and Mayor Vera Baboun welcomed the runners in Manger Square. Police blocked off routes throughout the city, and Red Crescent medics supervised runners' progress.Last year about 500 runners took part in different legs of the race. On Tuesday, the Israeli High Court of Justice turned down an appeal  by the human rights group Gisha on behalf of Gaza runner Nadir al-Masri who was denied entry  to the West Bank to compete in the marathon. Al-Masri, 34, was also denied entry to the West Bank in 2013 to compete.