The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel is demanding the attorney general order a criminal investigation to determine whether any crimes were committed in the planning and execution of past targeted assassinations.

Attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard wrote Attorney General Menachem Mazuz a letter, asking him to clearly and unconditionally prohibit assassinations when detention is an alternative, and to prohibit giving advance approval to harming innocent bystanders.

They also demanded Mazuz establish a committee to examine the constitutionality of past assassinations, as the High Court of Justice called for in a 2006 ruling.

Two weeks ago, Haaretz Magazine published an investigation by Uri Blau that revealed the Israel Defense Forces approved assassinations in the West Bank even when detention appeared to be a viable alternative. In addition, the most senior IDF echelons gave advance approval to assassinations that would kill innocent Palestinian bystanders.

In their letter, Feldman and Sfard quoted remarks by former Central Command head Major-General (res.) Yair Naveh that they say demonstrate criminal intent, and echo statements by Dan Halutz, the commanding officer responsible for the 2002 assassination of Hamas leader Salah Shahadeh. An Israeli F-16 dropped a 1-ton bomb on the apartment building in Gaza where Shahadeh was staying, killing him along with his wife, his daughter and 15 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children between the ages of two months and 14 years.

In an interview with Haaretz a few months after the incident, Halutz maintained that Military Intelligence was not aware innocent civilians might be in the apartment building that night, and when asked what a pilot feels when dropping a bomb, he famously replied, "I feel a light bump to the plane as the bomb is released. A second later, it's gone, and that's all."

Feldman and Sfard argued there was a "chilling similarity" between the prima facie illegal actions of both generals and the two men's attitudes.