JERUSALEM (JTA) — Many of the 33 Chilean miners who survived 68 days trapped underground in a collapsed mine arrived in Israel on Wednesday.
The eight-day visit, which included many of the miners’ wives or partners, is being billed as a Pilgrimage of Thanks and is being underwritten by Israel’s Tourism Ministry.
In Israel, they will tour many of the country’s holy sites and are scheduled to be welcomed by President Shimon Peres in an official reception at his residence in Jerusalem.
The Chileans, who are accompanied by journalists from their country and the regional governor of Atacama, are scheduled to plant trees for peace and coexistence, according to reports.
The visit is going forward despite Chile’s recent official recognition of the State of Palestine.
In his invitation issued last October in the days after the men were rescued, Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov wrote, "Your bravery and strength of spirit, your great faith that helped you survive so long in the bowels of the earth, was an inspiration to us all. It would be a great honor for us to welcome you as our guests in the Holy Land."