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Three Islamic Jihad militants were killed yesterday evening when an Israel Air Force helicopter missile hit their car in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

Israeli security sources confirmed that the strike's target was Hazam Rahim, a senior activist in Islamic Jihad, who had planned to carry out an attack in Israel in the coming days.

Rahim, who died in the strike, was one of those responsible for the removal of the body parts of Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed when their armored personnel carrier exploded in the neighborhood in May.

Rahim's brother was killed during an attempt to infiltrate the central Gaza settlement of Netzarim in 2002.

The identities of the other two militants were not clear.

Ramez Daloul, 43, said he was coming out of a mosque after evening prayers when he heard a huge explosion. "I saw a car on fire and the body of a man hanging out its windshield," he said.

Earlier yesterday, IDF troops blew up a Qassam rocket launcher in the Beit Hanun area of the northern Strip, Israel Radio reported. Palestinian gunmen opened fire on an IDF post near Beit Hanun, and another one close to the settlement of Neveh Dekalim, according to Army Radio. No casualties or damage were reported.

In Ramallah, IDF special forces arrested a wanted Tanzim member yesterday afternoon.

Before dawn yesterday, an elite IDF unit arrested seven Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Bethlehem who the IDF said were planning to carry out a suicide bombing in the next few days, Israel Radio reported.