The IDF has postponed the date by which it intends to permanently open to the public the site where John baptized Jesus along the shores of the Jordan River, by turning it over to Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, IDF announced on Monday.
The historic bend in the Jordan River has been a closed military zone for 42 years. Visitors have to coordinate their trip with the Civil Administration, which has overseen the site.
The Parks Authority had been expected to open it to the public on Tuesday, so that it would operate like any other tourist site in Israel. But security sources and a spokesman for Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said that the opening would be delayed by a month or longer. The site will open Tuesday, however, as it does annually, to host Greek and Russian Orthodox Christians who travel to the site to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany marking Jesus’s baptism