Israeli police fails to stop new mob attack on Jerusalem Armenian Quarter amid 'land grab'

Israeli police fails to stop new mob attack on Jerusalem Armenian Quarter amid 'land grab'
The attack comes as The New Arab publishes a series of investigations into a murky deal to acquire land in Jerusalem that underpins violence against Armenians
3 min read
28 December, 2023
Armenian Convent in the Armenian Quarter in occupied East Jerusalem. Ibrahim Husseini/TNA

Masked men numbering around 30 stormed the Armenian Quarter in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday, assailing community members with the Israeli police late to intervene, according to eyewitnesses. 

A widely shared video from the scene shows masked men throwing rocks and other objects at members of the Armenian clergy. 

Police later arrived at the scene and cleared the area. It is unclear if arrests have been made. 

The identity of the assailants was not immediately clear, but Armenian activists in Jerusalem blamed the attack on George Warwar. Warwar is a Jaffa man thought to be involved in a controversial and now cancelled deal to acquire a plot of land in the Armenian neighbourhood ostensibly to build a luxury hotel by Jewish investors.

The New Arab has published a series of investigations into the deal and its links with the extremist Israeli settler movement. The controversy prompted companies signed up to the project to scale back their involvement, including Safdie Architects.

Christian Armenian activists accuse Jewish settler groups of trying to assert control over the disputed piece of land that has been in the possession of the Armenian Patriarchate for centuries. These settler groups are believed to be linked to Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's far-right national security minister. 

Xana Capital, a company owned by Danny Rubenstein, also known as Danny Rothman, is claiming a large property in the Armenian Quarter after signing a questionable deal with the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian several years ago. The Armenian Patriarchate has since withdrawn from the agreement, and the matter is now in the courts.

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The details of the agreement between the Patriarch and Danny Rubenstein are not entirely transparent, but community members are determined to annul the deal and maintain hold of the land. 

The Armenian Patriarchate issued a strong message referring to the violent episode as an "existential threat", stating that "Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Seminarians and indigenous Armenians are fighting for their very lives". 

"We call upon the Israeli government and the Police to start an investigation against Danny Rothman and George Warwar for organising their criminal attacks on the Armenian Patriarchate and community, attacks which seem to have no end in sight", the statement added. 

Similar attacks against the Armenian community occurred recently.

Last month, on two separate occasions, private security guards and Israeli and Jewish settlers burst into the Armenian Quarter accompanied by two bulldozers.

To find out more, watch our video explainer of the dispute over the Armenian Quarter.