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The Place Where Jesus Was Baptized Was Laced with Landmines, Now Israel Is Fixing That

The Place Where Jesus Was Baptized Was Laced with Landmines, Now Israel Is Fixing That Read Transcript

- [Chris] This is Qasr alYahud on the Jordan River

the place many believeJohn baptized Jesus.

It's also thought to be thearea the children of Israel

crossed over to thePromised Land and the site

where Elijah ascended to heaven.

Israel's side of the baptismalsite opened to visitors

in 2011 but the 250 acre area around it,

known as the Land of the Monasteries

remained off limits.

This area is strewn with mines and other

explosive devices remainingfrom the Six Day War and beyond.

Because of securityconcerns the area was marked

and fenced and access tothe churches' properties

has been restricted since the 1970s.

- We are walking here almostone year in this monastery,

we walk here every month.

It take us time to clean the area.

Clean for mines, clean frommortars, clean for booby traps.

- [Chris] Seven churcheshave property here.

Three monasteries havealready been cleaned

and CBN News toured two of them.

Franciscan Chapel was built in 1956

and belongs to the Vatican.

The Ethiopian Monastery was much larger

and had a bakery and guest house.

- Every millimeter ofthis side checked at least

by three people and bytwo different actions.

So as you understand,it's a very dangerous

and difficult job.

- [Chris] Marcel Avivleads the Israeli agency

responsible for this type of operation.

It's working with HallowTrust, the world's oldest

and largest humanitarianmine clearance charity

to clean this area.

- When we will finish all the job here,

both lands will be given to their owners

and the owners are the churches.

- [Chris] During the Six DayWar, this church owned land

came under Israeli control.

It became an easy target for the Palestine

Liberation Organization toattack Israeli soldiers.

Eventually, the monks abandoned the area

and explosives were spread all around.

Israel has maps of the mines but according

to supervisor, MosheHilman, many have shifted

over the years.

And there are other challenges.

- And it was here full of metal.

It was firing zone, itwas irrigation zone.

Monks have a small farm in this monastery

so it take us time to clean.

- [Chris] Some 800,000 peoplevisit the baptismal site

each year and that's expected to triple

once the monasteries are back.

- I hope that this gardenthat was left 50 years ago

will be green again andall of us will be happy

to visit here and tosee this amazing area.

I hope it will be, I'm sure it will be.

- [Chris] Chris Mitchell,CBN News, Qasr al Yahud,

the Jordan Valley.


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