Israeli Rocket Attack Wounds Hamas Leader

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip June 10

Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car carrying a senior Hamas leader Tuesday, wounding him, killing his bodyguard and a bystander and jeopardizing the U.S.-backed road map to Mideast peace. The Palestinian prime minister called the incident a "terrorist" attack.

Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the most high-profile political leader of the Islamic militant group to be targeted by Israel in 32 months of fighting, said he jumped out of his car when he heard the choppers overhead. Rantisi was injured and underwent surgery.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas denounced the helicopter strike as a "criminal and terrorist" Israeli attack. The incident came just four days after Hamas broke off talks with him on halting violence. However, some Hamas leaders said before Tuesday's strike they were considering resuming truce talks.

After the helicopter attack Hamas threatened revenge "that will be like an earthquake."

"We will continue with our holy war and resistance until every last criminal Zionist is evicted from this land," Rantisi told the Arab TV satellite station Al-Jazeera from his hospital bed.

Abbas accused Israel of trying to destroy the "road map" plan to get out of its commitments. The prescription for Mideast peace and Palestinian statehood by 2005 was launched last week by President Bush, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at a summit in Jordan.

Israeli officials declined comment.