Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The demining project of Qasr al-Yahud area, which extends around the west bank of the Jordan River, the site where many Christian traditions believe Jesus was baptized, will last two years and cost at least $ 4 million to complete the demining. For this reason, the Halo Trust, a UK based demining group, has launched a subscription to finance the project, aimed in particular at Churches and Christian communities all over the world.
Qasr el-Yahud, a few kilometers 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 mines scattered at the time of the Six Day War (5-10 June 1967).
Clearance will cover an area of about 100 hectares. At first, the end of the mine clearance work had been announced for the end of 2016. The clearing mine fields - underline the managers of the company in a press release to launch the subscription - will allow places of worship in the area, belonging the Catholic Church, the Coptic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church and various Orthodox Churches - to be restored to accommodate liturgies and provide pastoral care to the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who could come back to visit the site.
The company specialized in the removal of mines and explosive remnants of war also highlights the support received from some leaders of Christian churches and communities, including Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, former Custos of the Holy Land and recently appointed apostolic Administrator of the vacant see of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. "We await the day when, thanks to Halo, we will be able to safely celebrate the sacrament of baptism", says Father Pizzaballa among other things, in a statement released when he was Custos of the Holy Land. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 06/07/2016)