12/10/2018 Palestine (International Christian Concern) – According to the Times of Israel, 1,500 landmines were cleared from 3 of 7 church compounds at Qasr al-Yahud, believed to be the location of Jesus’ baptism. This area was closed fifty years ago because of the more than 6,000 landmines planted there during the Six Day War. It is estimated that the work of clearing the landmines will finish in December 2019. The goal is that each of the 7 churches will eventually be allowed to reopen their doors.
According to the State Department Religious Freedom Report, there are approximately 50,000 Christians living in the West Bank and Jerusalem. A combination of factors has contributed to the increased Christian emigration from these areas. This includes a loss of confidence in the security situation and its impact on the ability to safely practice one’s faith. The removal of landmines from the churches at Qasr al-Yahud is but one aspect of this.
Christians in the Middle East often face rampant discrimination and marginalization. Security remains one of the biggest concerns throughout the region. When the security situation deteriorates, Christians are left in an even more challenging environment that often leads to an increase of persecution of Christians.
For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].