- An Israeli settler in an Eastern Jerusalem neighborhood was caught on video arguing with a Palestinian woman about stealing her home, saying, “If I don’t steal it, someone else will steal it.”
- The incident occurred in a neighborhood where, in March of 2020, an Israeli court ordered local Palestinians to leave and make way for Israeli homeowners, claiming the land was owned by Jewish residents prior to a 1956 agreement with Jordan, which controlled the region at the time.
- Locals have protested the decision, prompting Israeli forces to enter homes and forcibly remove families throughout the weekend and into Monday.
Sheikh Jarrah Latest Flash Point
A video depicting an Israeli settler arguing with a Palestinian homeowner about “stealing” her home has sparked widespread outrage after it began circulating over the weekend.
The incident took place in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Eastern Jerusalem, an area Palestinian families have inhabited since at least 1956. At the time, Jordan controlled Eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, and in an agreement with Israel, they housed Palestinians in the neighborhood with the caveat that the same Palestinians would own the homes after three years.
Shortly thereafter, Jordan lost its mandate to the region and it came under the sole control of Israel, which has refused to recognize the deal. In March 2020, a court ordered Palestinian families in the neighborhood to vacate their homes after claiming they were built on land owned by Israelis prior to 1948, after which the homes would be then occupied by Israelis. Still, it doesn’t seem that many Israeli settlers needed a court order to begin the process, as the neighborhood has been dealing with Israelis squatting in Palestinian homes for over a decade.
As could be expected of any decision ordering people out of their homes, it was met with hostility and many Palestinians have refused to comply, leading to large sit-ins and protests. As recently as this week, Israeli forces have stormed the neighborhood to break them up and force families out of their homes to comply with the court’s decision.
“If I don’t steal it, someone else will steal it”
This was the backdrop for this weekend’s viral video, which showed an unknown Israeli settler with a thick Bronx accent arguing with Mona Al-Kurd about stealing her home. He was in her garden when Al-Kurd confronted the man, saying “Jacob, you know that this is not your home.”
Jacob, as the man seems to be named, responded, “Yes, but if I go, you don’t go back, so what’s the problem? Why are you yelling at me?”
“You are stealing my house!” Mona could be heard saying, growing increasingly frustrated with the situation.
The back and forth continued with Jacob flatly stating, “If I don’t steal it, someone else will steal it, So why are you yelling at me?”
“No one is allowed to steal my home!”
Al-Kurd and her family have actually only had access to one-half of their house. The other half has been squatted by dozens of settlers since 2009 and she has no recourse to force them out.
A Solution No One Likes
The Israeli Supreme Court has attempted to find a solution to the situation, although it’s one that has left many Palestinians feeling more upset. It gave Palestinian families until Thursday to recognize new Israeli settlers as landlords and pay them rent, or it will look at the 2020 case’s appeal and possibly hand down similar evictions.
Sheikh Jarrah is just the latest flashpoint for tensions between Israelis and Palestinians as the last year has seen Israeli settlement efforts in the West Bank and other Palestinian neighborhoods dramatically increase with seeming support from the Israeli government.
See what others are saying: (The Jerusalem Post) (Al Bawaba) (Al Jazeera)
200 Children Seeking Asylum in the U.K. Are Missing
The missing include at least 13 children under the age of 16.
Children Missing From Hotels
There are 200 asylum-seeking children missing from government care in the United Kingdom according to the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office.
When children are seeking asylum in the U.K. alone or separated from their parents, the government puts them up in hotel rooms for temporary accommodation. They have done so since 2021 and have temporarily accommodated 4,600 children in that time. However, Simon Murray, the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office, said that 200 of the children placed in those hotels are missing, including at least 13 who are under the age of 16.
In response to this information, a collection of more than 100 charities sent a letter to the Prime Minister demanding the end of the procedure of placing kids in hotels over safety concerns. The letter says that these children are at risk of trafficking and exploitation by staying in these hotels alone.
Other officials have echoed these concerns, claiming these hotels are targets for organized crime where people use these vulnerable children for labor or trafficking.
Parliament Calls Incident “Horrific”
Murray told the House of Lords on Monday that despite the media reports, his department does not know of any kidnapping cases, though they are investigating. He went on to say there are many reasons why children go missing.
However, lawmakers were not appeased by Murray’s assurances. In a later debate, one member of Parliament called the missing cases “horrific” and another said that it was “putting children at risk.” The children’s commissioner for England also reportedly chimed in asking for, quote “assurances on the steps being taken to safeguard the children.”
Murray went on to say that the use of hotels for asylum-seeking children will hopefully be phased out as soon as possible but did not give a timeline.
The nonprofit Refugee Council called on the government in a tweet to spare no expense in the location of these missing kids.
See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (The Guardian) (The Telegraph)
100,000 U.K. Nurses Launch Biggest Strike in NHS History
Opposition leader Keir Starmer called the strike “a badge of shame on this government.”
The NHS Grinds to a Halt
Some 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the United Kingdom’s largest nursing union, launched a historic 12-hour strike Thursday after the government refused to negotiate on higher pay.
The work stoppage, which spans England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, is only the second in the RCN’s 106-year history and the largest the NHS has ever seen. It marks the breaking point for many underpaid nurses and the culmination of a years-long decline in the NHS’s quality of care, put under increasing stress by severe staffing shortages.
Although most NHS staff in England and Wales received a pay rise of around £1,400 this year, worth about 4% on average for nurses, they say it has not kept up with inflation as Britain plunges deeper into a cost-of-living crisis.
When inflation is accounted for, nurses’ pay dropped 1.2% every year from 2010 to 2017, according to the Health Foundation.
Meanwhile, the number of patients waiting for care has reached a record 7.2 million in England, or over one in eight residents, more than double what it was seven years ago.
In July, the cross-party Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee estimated the staffing shortfall could be as high as 50,000 nurses and 12,000 doctors, what one MP called the “greatest workforce crisis in history.”
Many nurses argue that boosting pay will help hospitals recruit more staff.
The RCN demanded a pay raise 5% above the retail rate of inflation, which amounts to a 19% increase, but both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the government’s health secretary have claimed that’s not affordable.
During Thursday’s strike, partial staffing continued to remain open for urgent care such as chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, and children’s accident and neonatal units.
Sunak and Starmer Brawl in Parliament
Labor leader Keir Starmer grilled Sunak during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on the upcoming strike.
“Tomorrow will be the first-ever nationwide nurse’s strike,” he said. “All the Prime Minister has to do to stop that is to open the door and discuss pay with them. If he did, the whole country would breathe a sigh of relief. Why won’t he?”
“We have consistently spoken to all the unions involved in all the pay disputes that there are,” Sunak replied. “Last year, when everyone else in the public sector had a public sector pay freeze, the nurses received a three-percent pay rise.”
Starmer fired back: “Nurses going on strike is a badge of shame for this government. Instead of showing leadership, he’s playing games with people’s health.”
Sunak called Starmer’s demand that he reopen negotiations with the RCN “just simply a political formula for avoiding taking a position on this issue.”
“If he thinks the strikes are wrong, he should say so,” Sunak said. “If he thinks it’s right that pay demands of nineteen percent are met, then he should say so. What’s weak, Mr. Speaker, is he’s not strong enough to stand up to the union.”
While Starmer has called on Sunak to negotiate with the RCN, he has not explicitly backed the 19% pay raise himself.
Unless the government returns to the bargaining table, the RCN plans to launch a second round of strikes on Dec. 20 to be followed by ambulance strikes that Wednesday and the next.
If the government still refuses to budge, the union said in a statement that nurses will strike for longer periods in more places starting in January, disrupting more health services.
Other industries are also set to see work stoppages this month, including workers on railways, buses, highways, and borders, as well as teachers, postal workers, baggage handlers, and paramedics.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (CNN) (The Guardian)
Fortnite Developer Sued By Parents for Making the Game as “Addictive as Possible”
One child mentioned in the lawsuit played over 7,700 rounds of Fortnite in two years.
Epic Games Sued
A Quebec City judge recently approved a 2019 class-action lawsuit accusing Fortnite developer Epic Games of deliberately making Fortnite addictive.
The parents who brought forward the lawsuit claim their children have become so obsessed with the game that in some cases, they’ve stopped eating, showering, or socializing. The lawsuit claims that these kids have played thousands of games since Fortnite’s release in 2017. In one example, a teenager played over 7,700 games in less than two years.
If the lawsuit succeeds, players addicted to Fortnite living in Quebec since September 2017 could receive compensation. The plaintiff’s attorney, Philippe Caron, reports that over 200 parents outside the lawsuit have reached out to him, saying their child’s well-being has diminished since downloading Fortnite. He told The Washington Post that they are very confident about their case.
Epic Games Responds
“We plan to fight this in court,” Natalie Munoz, a spokesperson for Epic Games said to The Post, “We believe the evidence will show that this case is meritless.”
Munoz also said that Fortnite does allow parents to supervise their child’s playtime and require permission for purchases.
The parents involved in the lawsuit are claiming that they were not aware of the dangers playing Fortnite could pose for their children.
“If she had been informed by the defendants of the risks and dangers associated with the use of FORTNITE,” the lawsuit says of one guardian. “She would have categorically refused to allow the game to be downloaded.”