A senior member of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's party Tuesday urged the government to order the assassination of Hamas political leaders in response to the Monday suicide bombing claimed by the Islamist group.

Hamas' armed wing said it was responsible for the bombing that killed an Israeli woman in the southern town of Dimona on Monday, the first such attack claimed by the group since 2004.

Hamas called the Dimona bombing retaliation for Israeli raids. The bomber and his accomplice, shot by police before he could detonate an explosives belt, were also killed.

Kadima party lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that Hamas had refrained from carrying out attacks in Israel for years and that the bombing marked a change of policy.

"Because of this, the Israeli government should also change its policy and we should no longer allow Hamas's leadership to enjoy immunity," Hanegbi told Israel Radio.

According to Hanegbi, the group's formal division into separate political/diplomatic and armed wings was a fiction. He said it made no difference whether Hamas figures "wear explosive suits or diplomatic suits."

Israel assassinated top Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in the Gaza Strip in 2004, killings that Hanegbi said had a "direct effect on the motivation of the Hamas leadership to continue to carry out suicide attacks."

The Israeli military has since largely refrained from targeting Hamas's political wing, but has struck against the Islamist movement's field commanders.

"(Hamas's political leaders) have evidently forgotten the bitter fate (of Yassin and Rantissi) and therefore we should add the current leaders of the organisation to that list," Hanegbi said.

Commenting on Hanegbi's remarks, Taher al-Nono, a spokesman for Gaza-based Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh, said: "The threats are part of continuing Israeli terrorism and crimes aimed at achieving political gains.

"We will not hide or be frightened by these threats."