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UN officials denounce West Bank arson attack that killed Palestinian child

[JURIST] United Nations (UN) [official website] Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] and recently appointed UN special envoy in the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov [press release] condemned [UN statement] the arson attacks in the West Bank on Friday that killed a Palestinian child and severely wounded the child's parents and sibling. "Continued failures to effectively address impunity for repeated acts of settler violence have led to another horrific incident involving the death of an innocent life," reads the statement from Mr. Ban issued by a spokesperson in New York. "The absence of a political process and Israel's illegal settlement policy, as well as the harsh and unnecessary practice of demolishing Palestinian houses, have given rise to violent extremism on both sides." Mr. Mladenov stated [UN report] that the "heinous murder was carried out for a political objective," and "the need for an immediate resolution of the conflict and an end to the occupation" is imminent. The Secretary-General urges both sides to reconcile and move towards peace. The attack occurred in the Occupied West Bank village of Duma, when Jewish extremists allegedly set fire to a Palestinian home while the family slept.

The Israel-Palestine conflict [HRW backgrounder] continues to be a significant international legal issue. Amnesty International (AI) on Wednesday released a report [JURIST report] that points to evidence of war crimes committed by Israel in the August 2014 retaliation for the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas [BBC backgrounder]. The attacks led to 135 Palestinian civilian deaths, including 75 children. In June Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that he had presented documents [JURIST report] to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assist in the investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes. Also in June a report released [JURIST report] by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict found that both Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during the conflict. In May AI accused [JURIST report] Hamas forces of leading a series of abductions, torturous acts and unlawful killings against Palestinians. In April a UN independent board of inquiry announced [JURIST report] that it uncovered evidence that at least 44 Palestinians were killed by "Israeli actions" while sheltering at UN locations during the Gaza conflict.

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