Human Rights Watch condemned the December 12 attack by armed Palestinians on a bus near the Israeli settlement of Emmanuel, in which ten Israeli civilians were killed and twenty-nine injured, and called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

"We condemn this horrific act as a violation of the most basic principle of international humanitarian law, the absolute prohibition against targeting civilians, " said Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. "The fact that those attacked live in settlements that are illegal under international law does not make them legitimate military targets."

Yesterday's attack followed a spate of suicide and other bomb attacks against Israeli civilians by members of Palestinian armed groups and Israeli military attacks on Palestinians suspected of planning or carrying out attacks on Israelis. Two Palestinian suicide bombers also mounted an attack yesterday near the Neveh Dekalim settlement in the Gaza Strip, killing themselves and wounding four others.

On Monday, Israeli forces killed two children and injured other Palestinians when they tried to kill a local Islamic Jihad leader in downtown Hebron.

"There are clear limits on the use of lethal force, especially when suspects can be arrested," Megally said. "This week's attack in Hebron should be investigated to ensure that Israeli forces are complying with these strict standards and taking all possible steps to avoid injury to civilians."