After nearly 50 years, the sacred site where Jesus is believed to have been baptized is set to reopen as the last of many landmines are cleared from the area.
In a statement released Sunday, the Israeli government announced that its work with international anti-landmine experts is almost complete. Marcel Aviv, who heads the Defense Ministry’s National Mine Action Authority, said he hopes to have the task completed by December 2019.
The historic site located about 10 kilometers east of Jericho is home to several Christian churches, including a Catholic chapel, Greek and Ethiopian Orthodox monasteries, and Greek, Romanian, Syrian, Coptic and Russian Orthodox churches, according to the Times.
While visitors have been able to tour the area along the river, the 250-acre territory that houses these churches remains closed to the public due to safety concerns. Once the de-mining process is complete, the churches will be handed over to their former leaders.
Photo credit: Basilica.ro Archive