(Jerusalem) – The bombing of a bus in West Jerusalem on April 18, 2016, apparently by a member of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, is a grave breach of the laws of armed conflict that prohibit targeting civilians.

The bombing injured at least 19 Israelis, some with severe burns, and killed the bomber, a Palestinian from Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. On April 20, a Hamas spokesperson in Bethlehem claimed responsibility for the attack, publishing a photograph of the bomber, who detonated the explosive while sitting on the bus.

“Targeting passengers on a public bus flouts the norms that bind the international community,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine country director. “Hamas should stop targeting civilians, period.”

Targeting passengers on a public bus flouts the norms that bind the international community. Hamas should stop targeting civilians, period.

Sari Bashi

Israel and Palestine Country Director

The Hamas movement, which governs Gaza and has a presence in the West Bank, is engaged in armed conflict with Israel.

Since October 2015, there has been an escalation of demonstrations in the West Bank and at the Gaza border with Israel that Israeli forces have suppressed, often using live fire. There has also been a wave of stabbings and attempted stabbings by Palestinians against Israeli civilians and security forces, both in the West Bank and Israel, mostly by people with no apparent affiliation with any armed group.

Since January, about 60 Palestinians and 6 Israelis have been killed in the violence, according to information collected by Human Rights Watch. Palestinian fatalities were mostly people shot during demonstrations and suspected attackers killed by Israeli security forces. Israeli fatalities were passers-by and security officers stabbed or shot by Palestinians unaffiliated with armed groups.