The Israeli tourism minister, Rehavam Zeevi, has been shot and killed.
The PFLP has claimed responsibility. This follows the assassination of three Hamas leaders by Israel in the past 3 days, preceded by the assassination some time ago of a PFLP official as he stood in his office window.
Earlier Tuesday, Israel brushed off U.S. criticism of its policy of killing Palestinian militants, equating it to America’s goal of seizing Osama bin Laden dead or alive.

Shortly thereafter, a Palestinian militant was killed in an explosion in the Gaza Strip, drawing vows of revenge by the Islamic group Hamas for the deaths of three of its members in the past three days. Washington, after weeks of pressuring Israel and the Palestinians to resume stalled peace talks, criticized the Jewish state’s renewed use of a military tactic that Palestinians call assassination.

Hamas blamed Israel for the blast and said Sharon would “pay a very dear price.”

The cause of the explosion was not clear, however. The Israeli army said it knew nothing of the incident, nor of a blast that killed a Hamas militant Monday. Israel did, however, acknowledge killing a Hamas militant Sunday.

Before the latest blast, Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said Israel was simply fighting “Palestinian terrorism” the same way the United States was waging war on bin Laden, Washington’s chief suspect in last month’s attacks on New York and Washington.

’THEY DO THE SAME THING WE DO’

“It’s a mistake,” Shoval said of the U.S. criticism. “Actually we do the same thing they do and they do the same thing we do.”

After more than a month without such killings, which have faced international condemnation, Israeli snipers in the West Bank shot dead on Sunday a member of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, Abdel Rahman Hamad. Israel said Hamad was involved in a Tel Aviv suicide bombing in June that killed 22 people.