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Israel vows 'all-out war' on Hamas

A car burns Monday in Gaza City after a missile strike.
A car burns Monday in Gaza City after a missile strike.

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CNN's Matthew Chance says the continuing Israeli strikes are raising anger and frustration among Palestinians.
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Israeli helicopters fire missiles in Gaza City.
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel declared "all-out war" against Hamas Monday and said it is freezing diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority unless the Palestinian leadership takes "tangible steps to deal with infrastructures of terror."

A statement released after a Cabinet meeting cited Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz as saying the August 19 bus bombing in Jerusalem had "broken the track that was supposed to give the diplomatic process a chance."

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told CNNRadio that military means was not the way to secure peace. He added that breaking off ties with the Palestinian Authority will prevent the road map to peace from ever being implemented.

Before the Israeli announcement, Israeli military helicopters fired missiles at Hamas members Monday in Gaza City.

Israeli security sources said a helicopter fired on "a car loaded with arms ... killing two Hamas military activists." They were identified as Khader Housari, 40, and Munther Kanitha, 32.

Palestinian sources said one Hamas member was killed and conceded that doctors said a second Hamas member was "clinically dead."

Twenty-five people were wounded in the attack, according to Dr. Mauia Abu Hasanin, director of the Shifa Hospital emergency room.

In addition to Monday's strike, Israeli helicopter attacks during the past two weeks have killed 10 Hamas activists and wounded more than 50 Palestinians as part of an Israeli strategy to target suspected terrorists

Monday's statement from Israel said it has adopted the following positions:

• "An all-out war against Hamas and other terrorist elements, including continuous strikes at the organization's leaders";

• "Pressure on [focuses] of terror" in the West Bank; and

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• A freezing of "the diplomatic process with the [Palestinian Authority] ... unless [Israel] sees that the PA is taking tangible steps to deal with the infrastructures of terror."

Since the Jerusalem bus bombing, the statement said, Israel had carried out "five targeted eliminations" of Hamas members and stepped up operational activities in the West Bank.

"The security establishment is preparing for the possibility of a security escalation and renewed wave of terror against Israel," the statement said.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the August 19 suicide bombing, which killed 21 people.

CNN has been trying to contact Hamas officials for comment on the Israeli statement but has received no reaction.

Palestinians have previously said that the Israeli strikes keep them from bearing down on militants staging attacks on Israeli targets.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has been under pressure to convince militants to end their attacks after a June summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Bush to move forward the U.S.-backed "road map" to peace.

On June 29, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- the militant offshoot of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement -- announced a temporary cease-fire on Israeli targets, which was followed by seven weeks of relative calm in the region.

All three groups are considered terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.

They have all announced an end to their self-imposed cease-fire, blaming Israel's targeted killings of Hamas militants before and after the bus bombing.

Meanwhile, CNN has confirmed that a meeting took place Sunday between an Egyptian delegation and representatives of some militant Palestinian groups. In the meeting, the Egyptians tried to persuade the militants to rejoin the cease-fire.

CNN Correspondent Matthew Chance and CNN Producer Waffa Munayyer contributed to this report.


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