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Hamas Leader Killed in Gaza Blast

An Israeli helicopter fired a missile at a car in Gaza City (search) late Sunday, residents said, killing a senior Hamas (search) leader, the latest Israeli attack in the territory it plans to leave next year.

Witnesses said parts of a dismembered body were pulled from the wreckage. Hospital officials said six were wounded, two seriously, all bystanders returning from a mosque.

Witness Omar Arfa, 52, who owns a fast food stand nearby, said the street was full of cars. "A spark came from the sky, then there was a huge explosion in part of street," he said.

The military said the Israeli air force carried out the attack.

The Israeli military had no official comment. But military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an Israeli attack helicopter carried out the attack.

Hamas identified the dead man as Khaled Abu Shamiyeh, 30, from the Shati refugee camp next to Gaza City. Hamas did not say what role he played in the violent Islamic group, which has claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings in Israel (search).

Angry Hamas militants gathered at the hospital and called for revenge against Israel. Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said, "Hamas will teach the enemy [Israel] a painful lesson."

The Israelis often target Palestinian militants and metal workshops in Gaza air strikes.

Earlier Sunday, an Israeli manufacturer said a radar system installed in an Israeli border town provides a 20-second warning if Palestinian militants fire rockets from the nearby Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also told the weekly meeting of the Israeli Cabinet that Israel would retaliate for rocket attacks, even if they come from civilian areas.

"We have to think about how to act against the sources of the fire, after warning the civilians," he said.

Sharon's remarks apparently were aimed at hard-line critics who say his planned withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 would expose Israel to intense rocket attacks.

Since the start of Israeli-Palestinian fighting four years ago, Palestinian militants have fired dozens of inaccurate, low-explosive rockets at Israeli border towns and Jewish settlements in Gaza.

The town of Sderot, a mile from Gaza, has been hit hardest, and two Israelis, including a 4-year-old boy, were killed by rocket fire there in June. Many missiles have fallen into fields, while others have damaged homes and cars.

An early-warning system was recently installed in Sderot to allow residents enough time to get into bomb shelters before the rockets land, said Giora Shalgi, the director of Rafael, an Israeli arms manufacturer.

"It can identify in a very short time where it [the rocket] was launched and assess where it will fall and operate a warning system while the rocket is in the air, which is for about 20 seconds, depending on the range," Shalgi told Israel Radio.

In other developments, the army decided to change the military code name for the Gaza withdrawal, to avoid offending religious Jews. The name initially chosen was "heavenly splendor," a phrase used in a Jewish prayer recited at funerals, a security official said. No new name has been chosen, but the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot said "stepping stones" was being considered.

Israeli security forces have been preparing for possible violence from extremist settlers during the evacuation. On Sunday, Shin-Bet security chief Avi Dichter came out against placing Jewish extremists under administrative detention without trial during the pullout. Dichter told the Cabinet that existing legal measures should be used, Shin Bet officials said.

Israel often detains Palestinians under administrative detention. Also, a pro-Palestinian Israeli is currently being held without trial.

Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian Sunday near the Karni crossing between Gaza and Israel. Palestinian hospital officials said he came from the Jebaliya refugee camp. The army said he was a member of the militant Islamic Jihad group.

In the West Bank, about 200 Palestinians and foreign supporters demonstrated in Beit Awwa, near the city of Hebron, against the construction of Israel's separation barrier.

In a shoving match, two Palestinians were injured when they were kicked by the police, witnesses said. Israeli border police reported four officers were injured.