A general view of a parking lot that is part of the contentious deal in the Armenian Quarter, before any destruction to it took place.

Israeli Settlers Attempt Again to Occupy Cows’ Garden, Police Arrest 3 Armenians

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JERUSALEM (Save the ArQ, Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem) – On November 15, at around 4:30 p.m., a motorcade of settlers on 4×4 vehicles and motor bikes, which were by all accounts sent by the Xana Capital representative George Warwar, encroached on the Cows’ Garden premises (“Goverou Bardez”).

Members of the Save the ArQ movement immediately alerted the entire Armenian community of Jerusalem to surround the barricaded perimeter in order to stop the trespassers. The Israeli police and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) arrived on scene and the settlers scattered, with only a few remaining on site, in a malicious attempt to change facts on the ground. The outraged Armenian community attempted to peacefully – with neither any intention nor any directive to resort to any violence from community leaders – demand that the trespassers vacate the property belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The Israeli police, without probable cause, proceeded to arrest 3 Armenian Jerusalemites, including a 17-year-old minor. Two adult arrestees received a 15-day stay-away notice forbidding them to be within 50 meters of the Cows’ Garden.

Instead of removing the trespassers, the Israeli police permitted a few settlers to continue their presence intended to possess the Armenian property. In response to the incursion, Armenian community members — despite being asked to disperse — formed a human shield and peacefully urged the aggressors to vacate the Cows’ Garden.

Meanwhile, according to a November 15 communique from the Chancellery of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, a legal note sent on November 6 ascribed a false, defamatory and libelous quote to Bishop Koryoun Baghdasaryan, who supposedly made such a statement to Danny Rothman on November 5 in the Cows’ Garden.

The next day, November 7, a widely read Israeli media outlet known as Y-net published an article referring to this supposed statement. However, Armenian community members contacted the author, pointing out that the bishop had never been contacted to confirm or deny the quote, and the article was edited henceforth to remove this reference.

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Rothman submitted the fabricated quote to the police department, which summoned Bishop Baghdasaryan for investigation.

According to the Chancellery, Baghdasaryan never spoke with Rothman, and the bishop is preparing to sue Rothman for defamation.

The Chancellery on November 16 issued a new communique noting that “In recent days, the vast destruction and removal of asphalt on the grounds of the Armenian Quarter has been done without the presentation of permits from the municipality by neither the developer nor the police. Despite this fact, the police have chosen in the last few days that all members of the Armenian community vacate the premises. We plead with the entirety of the Christian communities of Jerusalem to stand with the Armenian Patriarchate in these unprecedented times as this is another clear step taken toward the endangerment of the Christian presence in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.”

These disturbing developments continue to be an existential crisis and a clear attempt orchestrated by Israeli settlers, George Warwar, and Danny Rothman, to intimidate and displace and evict a 1700-year-old community from its ancestral home.

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