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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 01:16 GMT 02:16 UK
Hamas displays 'Israeli remains'
Masked Hamas militant holds out bloody bag (not pictured), as Palestinians look on
Several militant groups claim to have gathered the soldiers' bodies
Palestinian militants have paraded what they say are body parts from six Israeli soldiers blown to pieces by a bomb during a raid on Gaza City.

The soldiers' vehicle was hit by a bomb claimed by Hamas in the deadliest attack on the army in more than a year.

The Israeli government has ordered troops to remain in the city until all of the six's remains are recovered

At least eight Palestinians have been killed and 120 injured since the security drive began early on Tuesday.

Reports speak of Israeli troops making house-to-house searches in the tense city on Wednesday morning.

The Israeli soldiers were attacked after several hours of street fighting with gunmen in the Zeitoun area as they searched for suspected weapons workshops.

An Israeli helicopter gunship later fired a missile at a Palestinian car in the city, killing a 14-year-old boy and injuring two militants, Palestinian sources said.

At least two members of Hamas, which encourages attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians, died in the gun battles.

'No negotiations'

An emergency meeting of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's inner cabinet late on Tuesday resolved to keep troops in the city until all the body parts of the six soldiers killed were found.

Mr Sharon said Israel was fighting a "cruel, inhuman enemy" as the army released the names of five of the dead.

Elsewhere, the army chief, Gen Moshe Yaalon, ruled out any negotiations with the militants who had "profaned" the dead men's bodies.

The Israeli authorities have asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to help retrieve them and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has called for the bodies to be treated "according to religious and humanitarian traditions."

Correspondents talk of gruesome scenes in Gaza City, with militants showing off what they said were Israeli body parts and pieces of wrecked Israeli equipment.

Qatari satellite TV broadcaster al-Jazeera has shown two militants it identified as Islamic Jihad members displaying a severed human head on a table.

A masked Hamas gunman has also been seen holding up a blood-stained bag and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade has also claimed to have some of the remains.

Hamas said it had drawn the Israeli vehicle into an area where it had several bombs waiting, and filmed the explosion.

The force of the fatal blast was increased by explosives being carried in the armoured vehicle itself for use in the incursion, the army said.

Hard knock

The Israelis say they found more than 30 machines used for making weapons in Zeitoun while the Palestinians say four workshops were hit.

BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says the deaths of the soldiers will be a serious blow to Israeli forces.

He says Hamas supporters will see it as proof that the organisation has the ability to strike back to avenge the killing of two of its top leaders by the Israelis in March and April.

The latest Israeli deaths are the worst single blow to the army since November 2002, when eight Israeli soldiers, along with a border patrol officer and three civilian guards, were killed in an ambush in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The BBC's James Reynolds
"This is now Israel's worst military loss in two years"

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