Israeli forces have killed at least three suspected Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. One of the dead is a senior member of the militant Islamic group Hamas, which has vowed to avenge the man's death, raising more fears of another dangerous escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli helicopter gun-ships killed a senior military Hamas military commander in the Gaza Strip Thursday, drawing vows of revenge from the organization to unleash disaster on the Jewish State.

Witnesses said at least two missiles hit a car in the town of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, killing Bakr Hamdan, 30.

The Israeli Army said he was a relative of the top Hamas leader in the town and been responsible for dozens of attacks.

The air strike was in line with Israel's stated policy of targeting Palestinian militants it says are planning or involved in attacks against Jews.

A short while later, an Israeli tank killed two Palestinian gunmen in the southern Gaza Strip. The Israeli Army says the two Palestinians had attempted to infiltrate a Jewish settlement, prompting an exchange of fire.

The latest violence follows a shooting spree in downtown Jerusalem on Tuesday by a Palestinian gunman who killed two Israeli women, before he was himself shot dead by police.

Israel has taken a tough approach to the attacks, confining Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, a move that President George W. Bush understands, as part of efforts to bring a halt to terrorism.

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon has accepted an invitation from Mr. Bush to meet with him in Washington on February 7 to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East.