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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Israeli strikes 'kill militant'
Remains of a car hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza
Three missiles hit the car, according to witnesses

An Israeli missile strike on a car in Gaza City is said to have killed a suspected member of Palestinian militant group Hamas and injured at least 25 other people.

A car in which he was travelling was struck by several missiles and a witness said the vehicle burst into flames, setting those inside on fire.

At least one other car was reported to have been hit in the attack by Israeli helicopter gunships, backed by F-16 fighter planes.

Hospital sources say relatives identified the dead man as Khader al-Husari and said he was a senior member of the armed wing of Hamas - although the group has not confirmed this.

He would be the 11th Islamic militants killed by Israel in a series of strikes against militants since the Palestinian suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem that left 21 people dead two weeks ago.

The BBC's David Chazan in Gaza said four loud explosions shattered the mid-afternoon calm in Gaza and shortly afterwards helicopters and fighter jets were seen in the sky.

'People on fire'

The aircraft dropped what appeared to be flares, possibly to deflect fire from the ground, he said.

"Three missiles hit the white Subaru," said eyewitness Mohammed Murad.

"People inside the car were on fire. A fourth missile hit a second car."

There has been no official word from Hamas or from the Israeli authorities over the attack.

Inflaming tension

Israel has vowed to eliminate those involved in attacks on its citizens saying the Palestinian authorities have failed to dismantle militant groups as set out in the so-called roadmap to peace.

On Saturday, Israeli helicopters killed two Hamas militants, Abdullah Akel and Farid Mayet.

Palestinians say the attacks show that Israel is not interested in trying to resurrect the peace process or any kind of ceasefire.

Hamas renounced its seven-week ceasefire following the killing of senior Hamas leader, Ismail Abu Shanab, in a missile strike on a car in Gaza a couple of days after the Jerusalem bombing.

The upsurge in violence threatens the road map, which charts a course to end nearly three years of violence and the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.

The BBC's David Chazan reports from Gaza
"As ambulances rushed victims to hospital, angry crowds gathered"

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