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At least 8 dead in attack on Hamas office

NABLUS, West Bank (CNN) -- At least eight people -- including a Hamas leader and two children -- were killed Tuesday when Israeli helicopters attacked a Hamas office.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said among those killed was Jamal Mansour, a senior Hamas leader. His brother, Omar Mansour, also died, the Red Crescent said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said helicopter gunships attacked the office because the Hamas militants, who it said had conducted terrorist attacks in the past, were planning a new attack.

In addition, two brothers -- ages 8 and 10 -- were killed, Palestinian officials said, as they stood on a street in front of the building waiting for their father to pick them up after attending a summer camp.

The eight deaths brought to 10 the number of people killed Tuesday in fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.

The building was a seven-floor apartment block. The Hamas office, said by Hamas to be a media research center it operated, was on the second floor.

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"We confirm that the IDF has struck today a group of senior Hamas members that have conducted terrorist actions in the past and were involved in preparation of additional terrorist attacks against Israel," said a spokesman for Sharon. "The IDF has taken action in order to prevent and foil murder and sabotage against Israeli civilians."

Regarding the deaths of the two children, the spokesman said Israeli officials were still checking but added, "At the same time, the prime minister's office expresses its deep regret for any harm or loss of life of innocent civilians."

Israel has said it will follow a policy of "active self-defense," which means strikes will be made against those who Israel believes are planning terrorist acts.

Later the Israel Defense Forces said the Hamas members who died were "prominent militant activists in this movement. The attack was carried out while the activists were continuing military activities of the Hamas and they had a detailed plan of action of a list of attacks in Israel.

"The Hamas headquarters in Samaria is responsible for a long list of fatal attacks, including the attack at the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv. During these attacks altogether 37 Israeli civilians have been killed."

In the incident at the popular Dolphinarium discotheque on June 1, a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing 18 people.

Hamas leaders vowed to take revenge on Israel.

Hamas leaders said in addition to the two children killed, five of those who died were Hamas members and one man was a photographer for a local newspaper.

Hamas, an Islamic organization with both charitable and militant wings, has been blamed by Israel for multiple terrorist attacks.

Security sources said the IDF believed Mansour was planning a terrorist attack on Jerusalem.

In other fighting Tuesday, Palestinians said that Hamouda Madhoun, a member of the radical Islamic Jihad movement, died in a firefight with Israeli troops near the Karni Crossing between Gaza and Israel. The IDF said its soldiers had not fired.

Israeli authorities said mortar shells were fired by Palestinians at the Gaza settlement of Netzarim. There were no reports of injuries. Shells also fell into an open Palestinian area.

Afterward, Palestinians said, Israeli tanks entered a Palestinian area and fired shells, hitting a car. No one was hurt. Subsequently, Palestinians said, the tanks opened fire with machine guns, hitting a police car and killing one Palestinian policeman.

There was no immediate response from Israeli authorities.

And in Jerusalem, city officials demolished three buildings they said were being illegally constructed in the Shoafat neighborhood.

• Israel Defense Force

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