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Sources: Israeli airstrikes in Gaza kill 6

Palestinian firefighters put out the burning wreckage of a car allegedly destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza Tuesday.
Palestinian firefighters put out the burning wreckage of a car allegedly destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza Tuesday.

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GAZA (CNN) -- Israeli airstrikes in a southern Gaza neighborhood Tuesday night killed a Hamas leader and five others and wounded another 20, Palestinian security and hospital sources said.

An Israeli warplane destroyed a Subaru car carrying a leader of Izzedine al-Qassam, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas, security officials told CNN. Two other Hamas members were killed, Palestinian sources said.

The attack took place about 8 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT). About a half-hour later, witnesses said, Israeli helicopter gunships also launched two rockets at the car, leaving three people dead and 20 injured, hospital sources said.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli government. But the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, citing Israeli security sources, identified the Hamas leader as Sa'id Arbid and said he had been involved in dozens of attacks on Israelis since the 1990s.

Arbid, the sources said, had taken an even more central role in the armed wing since its top commander, Salah Shehadeh, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza in July, a raid that also caused civilian casualties, Ha'aretz reported.

A month ago, an Israeli helicopter strike on a car in Gaza City killed Ibrahim al-Maqadma, 51, a founder of Hamas.

The strike came as the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations prepared to release a "road map" for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, contingent on the formation of a new Palestinian government.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called Tuesday night's attack "the Israeli response to Bush's call for the implementation of the road map."

The U.S. State Department labels Hamas a terrorist organization. Izzedine al-Qassam has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and strikes against the Israeli military.

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