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Jesus’ Baptismal Site to Be Cleared of Landmines

Qasr el-Yahud, site of Jesus' baptism, to be cleared of landmines (Photo: flickr/viktorkarppinen)

There are many biblical and historic sites in the Holy Land, but one of them - important to Christians - is partly inaccessible due to landmines. The Times of Israel reports that Qasr el-Yahud is to be cleared of thousands of landmines, giving great access to the site where Jesus was baptized:

Qasr al-Yehud, the site where many Christian traditions believe Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, will soon be cleared of some 4,000 landmines and other ordnance left over from the 1967 war and its aftermath.

The move, announced Monday, aims to allow pilgrims to visit areas inaccessible for nearly 50 years, blocked off by barbed wire fences intended to keep visitors from walking too close to the minefields.

Part of the site, located southeast of Jericho in the West Bank north of the Dead Sea, was cleared in 2011, allowing limited access for pilgrims and tourists, thousands of whom now visit the location each year, especially during the Epiphany holiday in January...

The initiative has won the approval of both Israeli and Palestinian officials — a rare instance of agreement in the usually fractious relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over Israeli-administered tourist and holy sites in the West Bank — and is eagerly backed by Christian denominations who see the location, an Israel-designated national park, as a holy site.

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