20th May, 2016

The area of Qasr al-Yahud, which extends around the western bank of the Jordan River, claimed as the site of Jesus' baptism, will be cleared of mines and other ordnance that still lie scattered some 50 years after the Six Day War of 1967.

According to the Israeli press, the area which is about to be cleared covers approximately 100 hectares and has been inaccessible since 1967. The mine clearance project will be implemented under the supervision of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and with the collaboration of the British company HALO Trust, which specialises in the removal of mines and unexploded ordnance of war. The mine clearance should be realised by the end of 2016.

Qasr el-Yahud, a few kilometres from the city of Jericho, is located in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967, right on the border with Jordan. The area includes ancient churches and monasteries so far deemed unsafe because of the mines.

Since 2011, Israel has made a single direct route accessible to an equipped site for Christian ceremonies, on the bank of the Jordan. Access is allowed to the pilgrims until now under the supervision of the Israeli army that controls the area.

- Agenzia Fides