Relaymedia

Site Where Jesus Was Baptized to be Reopened After Surrounding Cleared of Landmines

( [email protected] ) May 18, 2016 01:58 PM EDT
The portion of River Jordan where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and is one of the holiest Christian sites will be reopened to the public as soon as its surrounding is cleared of landmines.
Eritrean Christian migrants now living in Israel pray in the waters of the Jordan River at the Qasr al-Yahud baptism site Photo: Wall Street Journal

The portion of River Jordan where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and is one of the holiest Christian sites will be reopened to the public as soon as its surrounding is cleared of landmines.

HALO Trust, world's biggest humanitarian landmine removal organization, said the effort will take some time at $4 million cost, then "we will have the site for Christian pilgrims by 2018."

"If we don't do this...those mines will be there forever. We can make that difference," group's chief executive officer James Cowan said, adding that over 3,000 land mines are around the site left in the Israeli-Jordan war.

The site named, Qasr al-Yahud, lies close to an Israeli military outpost in Jordan Valley. Seven church buildings are also nearby.

Cowan said they have secured the permission from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the seven Christian denominations with churches on the site to begin the process, and because it is for religious and cultural purposes they need donations for funding.

HALO Trust had able to clear of land mines the West Bank [biblical Judea and Samaria] for two years, during that time the group had managed to fill the gap in religion, culture and politics of the people

"It is my belief that clearing this iconic site of land mines will benefit all humanity for centuries to come."