10 DECEMBER 2018
Efforts to clear thousands of landmines and other ordnance around the site where many believe Jesus was baptised have reached a milestone and officials allowed a rare glimpse Sunday of abandoned churches there.
The church grounds around the site in the occupied West Bank have sat empty and decaying for around 50 years, though pilgrims have been able to visit a nearby restricted area at the traditional baptismal spot on the banks of the River Jordan.
Work at the site just north of the Dead Sea is being overseen by Israel’s defence ministry, de-mining charity Halo Trust and Israeli firm 4CI.
According to the ministry, the project covers around one square kilometre (250 acres) as well as some 3,000 mines and other explosive remnants.
It is expected to cost 20 million shekels ($5.3 million, 4.7 million euros).
The work began in March and would require another