Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Progress on the de-mining of Qasr Al-Yahud

PILGRIMAGE MINEFIELD: Effort removes thousands of mines from site of Jesus' baptism. Seven Christian churches expected to reclaim historical buildings on Israel-Jordan border once area is clear (Melanie Lidman, National Catholic Reporter). I have been following this story about Qasr Al-Yahud, which is a possible site for the baptism of Jesus, since the de-mining project was announced in 2016. This article has a lot of background information about the site, the area, and the project, but this is the progress update:
The project was initially slated to begin in 2016, but problems with funding from Israel's Defense Ministry delayed the start for two years. The demining efforts finally got underway this past spring. HALO Trust fundraised about $2.6 million, and the Defense Ministry is funding $2 million.

A team of 22 specialized bomb sappers from the country of Georgia, along with dozens of Palestinian support staff have cleared 1,500 landmines from three of the seven church compounds, officials announced in mid-December 2018.

Marcel Aviv, the head of the Israel National Mine Action Authority, a branch of the Defense Ministry, said he hopes they will finish the work in December 2019. There are still about 5,000 landmines left to clear.
That's a good beginning. For background on the de-mining project and on the site of Qasr Al-Yahud, start here and follow the links.

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