Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani has spoken of his “delight” at news that a mine clearance charity has secured permission to de-mine the area around the West Bank of the River Jordan on the approach to the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism.
The baptism site at Qasr el Yahud, south of Jericho, was closed in 1967 after the Six-Day War. In 2011, the site was partially re-opened with access to the river and baptism site made possible through a small track past a military checkpoint. But the land around the road – and the numerous churches on it – remained fenced off with warnings of mines.
Now, the Halo Trust, a British anti-mining charity has secured permission from both the Israeli Government and Palestinian Authority, and the agreement of the denominations which were forced to abandon their churches in the area, to begin mine clearance.
“I am delighted to know that mines are being cleared on a Holy Site after so long,” Dawani told ACNS. “The clearance of these sites, and others in the Holy Land, are vital for the wellbeing of the local community.
“This site will allow more pilgrims to visit one of the holiest places in the region. The Jordan valley is not only the place where Jesus was baptized, it is a place where he stayed, preached and healed.”
This article continues at [Episcopal News Service] Delight at de-mining operation at site of Jesus’ baptism