Holy sites near where Jesus was baptised could be landmine-free by Easter 2019

  • 30/03/2018

Experts have begun clearing thousands of landmines from the area believed to be the site of Jesus's baptism.

They're hoping a safe zone could be ready in time for next Easter for the 500,000 people that regularly make the pilgrimage to the site.

Churches near the River Jordan have been inaccessible due to landmines since the six-day-war of 1967 when the Israeli army laid mines to prevent soldiers from Jordan using them as cover.

The Halo Trust began work to clear the site earlier in March after some diplomacy work helped bring together authorities from Israel, Palestine and many other denominations.

Christians, Jews and Muslims are now working together on the site to try and make it a safe place where pilgrims can worship and visit churches they're currently forbidden from entering.

There's over 250 acres (101 hectares) to clear so it's expected to take a while but they're hopeful they will make their April 2019 goal.

They're especially interested in getting into a currently booby trapped church that was revealed to have beautiful mosaics inside after shelling in 1970.

After recent cases of historic buildings being destroyed by warfare there's hope this can be a rare case of bringing something back after the war.