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Palestinians: Israelis kill a Hamas leader

Israeli sources confirm shooting, not identity

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HEBRON, West Bank (CNN) -- As a scheduled meeting of the Mideast Quartet approached, Israeli troops reportedly shot and killed a Hamas leader considered one of Israel's most wanted Saturday.

Palestinian security sources told CNN on Saturday that Israeli troops killed Hebron's senior Hamas leader, Abdullah Kawasme.

Israeli security sources confirmed that an "armed Palestinian" was shot and killed during an "arrest operation" in Hebron. The identity of the person killed was not confirmed by the Israeli sources.

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and the Israeli military.

Israeli officials said last week that they believed Kawasme was the mastermind of the suicide bombing of a bus in central Jerusalem on June 11.

At least 17 people and the bomber -- who was dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew -- were killed and 70 wounded in the bus attack. (Full story)

Izzedine al Qassam -- which has rejected calls from Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas for a cease-fire -- claimed responsibility for the bus attack.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment, but the Israeli government has pledged to crack down on Palestinian militants.

In other developments, a 24-year old Palestinian was killed in nighttime clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis late Friday, Palestinian security sources said.

The sources said the victim was trying to fire homemade Qassam rockets into Israel. The Israeli military said it is investigating the report.

Earlier Friday, in Ramallah, Palestinian gunmen ambushed a car, killing a man and wounding three others, the Israel Defense Forces said.

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