Site of Baptism of the Lord nears reopening as landmines cleared

Catholic News Agency | 12/10/2018 | Staff
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Jerusalem, Dec 10, 2018 / 07:30 am (CNA).- Churches at the site along the banks of the Jordan river where Jesus is believed to have been baptized could reopen within a year, following progress on a project to clear thousands of landmines and other ordinance from the location.

In a statement released December 9, the Israeli government and international anti-landmine workers praised the progress of efforts to clear explosives from the holy site.

Km - East - City - Jericho - Site

Located about 10 km east of the city of Jericho, the site is held to be the location of Christ’s baptism by St. John the Baptist, as recorded in the New Testament, and is considered one of the holiest places for Christians in the Holy Land. It is also widely held to be the location where the Israelites crossed the river Jordan following the 40 years in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. It is also believed to be the place where the prophet Elijah was taken bodily up into Heaven.

While pilgrims have been able to visit a small area along the river bank, a wider zone of 250 acres, which includes churches of several different Christian denominations, has been off-limits for nearly 50 years.

Landmines - Conflict - Forces - Six - Day

Around 3,000 anti-tank landmines were laid by the Israeli military during its conflict with Jordanian forces during the Six Day War in 1967. The area, officially evacuated by the Israeli government in 1970, includes a Catholic chapel belonging to the Franciscans, Greek and Ethiopian Orthodox monasteries, and Greek, Romanian, Syrian, Russian, and Coptic Orthodox churches.

Work to clear the site began in March, 2018, and is being conducted by the HALO Trust, an international anti-landmine charity, the Israeli defense ministry, and the private company 4CI.

Area - Monasteries - Franciscan - Chapel - Spokesman

The area around the two monasteries and the Franciscan chapel has been cleared according to a spokesman for the HALO Trust,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Catholic News Agency
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