A powerful blast went off in the central Gaza Strip home of a senior Islamic Jihad militant Friday, killing him and at least seven others and wounding 40, Palestinian sources said.

Witnesses said the three-story home of Ayman Atallah Fayed had completely collapsed, and that six nearby homes were also badly damaged.

Among the dead were Fayed's wife, three of his sons and three neighbors, said Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, a Health Ministry official. At least 40 people were wounded, 12 of them critically, including one of Fayed's daughters.

The blast went off Friday evening in Fayed's house in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. The explosion badly damaged the home and a nearby metal workshop.

Islamic Jihad said Israel targeted the house in an air strike, but Hamas police said the cause of the blast was not clear and the Israel Defense Forces denied an attack had taken place.

Witnesses reported seeing fragments of what looked like Qassam rockets at the scene, suggesting the house may have been used to store arms.

Fayed was a senior member of the Islamic Jihad military wing, and the group confirmed he was among the dead, vowing to carry out reprisal attacks against Israel.

"We will respond to this Zionist massacre painfully," Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad said. "We will strike the enemy everywhere."

A senior Islamic Jihad leader, Khaled al-Batsh, also said Israel was behind the bombing of the house and linked it to the car bombing in Damascus this week that killed top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah.

"This escalation by Israel will not bring security to the settlers, it will not bring security to Zionists anywhere," Batsh told Reuters.

"We will not meet the escalation against us with roses but with more resistance and jihad," he said.

Referring to the killing of Mughniyah, for which Israel has denied responsibility, he added: "It seems that Israel has decided to escalate its aggression against the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon. We will stand fast."