Armenia’s Foreign Ministry “concerned” about wave of attacks
The Armenian community of Jerusalem, one of the oldest in the world, as well as the Jerusalem Patriarchate on Monday were reeling from a series of attacks over the weekend targeting Armenians by what locals called “extremist vigilantes.”
Late Saturday evening local time, two Jewish extremists tried to obstruct the traffic on the Armenian Patriarchate street, then hit the car of young Armenians returning home from work, Chancellor at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Rev. Aghvan Gogkchian reported.
The Armenians got out of the car and politely spoke and asked. “Why are you hitting the car, this is our neighborhood, we are coming home from work. We respect the Jews, why do you do such things? What have we done to you?” One of the attackers started shouting: “You don’t have a neighborhood here. This is our country, get out of our country,” reported Public Radio of Armenia.
Gogkchian recounted that attackers sprayed tear gas at the Armenian confronting them, saying, “this is also our country, our home is here, we were born here, we have nowhere else to go.”
The Armenians reportedly chased the assailants who fled the seen on foot, but were impeded from the effects of the tear gas. Instead they went to the hospital for treatment.
A police report was filed, with law enforcement reportedly questioning and arresting two Jewish extremists. One suspect was released, but another, who was identified as the person using tear gas still remains in custody.
An hour after this incident, another group of Jewish extremists, passing along the street of the Patriarchate, tried to climb the roof of the Patriarchate and remove the flags of the Patriarchate and the Republic of Armenia.
According to Gogkchian’s account, young Armenians were able to foil the attack on the Patriarchate building with the assailants fleeing the scene.
A smaller group returned, this time provoking a fight with the Armenians and, again, deployed tear gas and chanting anti-Armenian slogans. As the assailants were fleeing the scene, they noticed police officers and began yelling “terrorist attack!”
The police, believing the false terrorism claims, then blocked the Armenian youth, pulled their weapons on them and used force against them. The law enforcement also arrested a local Armenian later identified as Kevork Kahkejian. He was charged with allegedly attacking a police officer and was remanded into custody.
He was released the next day, Sunday, after Jerusalem Patriarch Archbishop Nurhan Manoukian personally intervened. During Kahkejian’s arraignment the court ruled that he must serve 20 days under house arrest. However, given his visible injuries, and through the mediation of Patriarchate’s attorney, he was allowed to seek medical treatment.
The Armenian restaurant Taboon Wine Bar in Jerusalem was just attacked this evening by Israeli extremists.— Liana Margaryan 🇦🇲 (@lio___m) January 27, 2023
This follows several similar attacks and acts of aggression against the Armenian community in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem. #Armenia #Armenian pic.twitter.com/MMGWn713VW
The attack on the Patriarchate and surrounding Armenian residential areas was followed by a similar attack on a popular Armenian restaurant Taboon Bar in Jerusalem.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday voiced its “concern” over the weekend attacks targeting Armenians in Jerusalem.
“We are deeply concerned by recent acts of violence and vandalism targeting Christian religious institutions in Jerusalem including Armenian Patriarchate and the Armenian residents of the Old City,” foreign ministry spokesperson Vahan Hunanyan said in a Twitter post.