Israel has killed the leader of the Hamas military wing in a surgical missile strike in Gaza that could result in a fresh war in the region.

Ahmed Jabri, 46, the head of the Islamist group's military arm, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, died as he travelled by car with another senior Hamas leader in the Palestinian city.

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  • Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • A rocket launched by Palestinians militants towards Israel makes its way from the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel,Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • An Israel war plane drops a bomb over the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • A Palestinian boy holds a window pane taken from a damaged house hit in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Israeli aircraft, tanks and naval gunboats pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and rocket salvoes thudded into southern Israel, as residents on both sides of the frontier holed up at home in anticipation of heavy fighting on the second day of Israel's offensive against Islamic militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-CONFLICT-GAZA

    An Israeli policeman inspects damages at a house that was hit by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip in the southern city of Netivot on November 12, 2012. Gaza militants fired nine rockets at southern Israel, one of which exploded next to a house, police said, shattering an overnight calm even as Cairo sought to broker an end to 24 hours of bloodshed. AFP PHOTO/DAVID BUIMOVITCH

  • Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZA

    Palestinian children walk past a graffiti depicting resistance fighters in Gaza City on November 12, 2012. The spike in violence, which comes as Israel is in the middle of an election campaign, raised the spectre of a broader Israeli military campaign to stamp out rocket fire, although commentators said it was unlikely it would be one on the scale of Operation Cast Lead. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (

  • An unidentified Israeli man inspects the damage to a house caused by a rocket thought to have been fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. Hostilities along the Gaza-Israel border escalated sharply over the weekend, with bombardments from Gaza causing rare Israeli casualties and Israeli strikes killing several Palestinians. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants.

  • Masked Palestinian militants from the Al Nasser Brigades, an armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), leave after a press conference in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. During the press conference the militants claimed responsibility for the shooting of an Israeli jeep on the border with Israeli on Nov. 10, 2012 in which four soldiers were injured.

  • Masked Palestinian militants from the Al Nasser Brigades, an armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), hold a press conference in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. The militants claimed responsibility for the shooting of an Israeli jeep on the border with Israeli on Nov. 10, 2012 in which four soldiers were injured. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • FILE - In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 file photo, a rocket is launched from the Israeli anti-missile system known as "Iron Dome" in order to intercept a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip in Ashdod, Israel. Last year Israel activated the Iron Dome, a first-of-its-kind system that intercepts rockets fired from short distances of up to 70 kilometers (50 miles) and has shot down dozens of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, including several projectiles fired over the past week. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, file)

  • People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • People gather around a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • Columns of smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Palestinian witnesses say Israeli airstrikes have hit a series of targets across Gaza City, shortly after the assassination of the top Hamas commander. Hamas security officials say two Hamas training facilities were among the targets in the Wednesday afternoon bombings. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • Columns of smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Palestinian witnesses say Israeli airstrikes have hit a series of targets across Gaza City, shortly after the assassination of the top Hamas commander. Hamas security officials say two Hamas training facilities were among the targets in the Wednesday afternoon bombings. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • Israelis soldiers run to a rocket shelter as a siren sounds signaling an attack coming from the nearby Gaza Strip in Neva settlement, near the Israel-Egypt border, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • Israeli soldiers and civilians run to a rocket shelter as a siren sounds signaling an attack coming from the nearby Gaza Strip in Neva settlement, near the Israel-Egypt border, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • Columns of smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Palestinian witnesses say Israeli airstrikes have hit a series of targets across Gaza City, shortly after the assassination of the top Hamas commander. Hamas security officials say two Hamas training facilities were among the targets in the Wednesday afternoon bombings. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • Israeli security personnel take cover in Kiryat Malachi, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip killed three Israelis on Thursday in a rocket attack liable to deepen a bruising Israeli air, naval and artillery offensive against Palestinian rocket squads. The casualties were the first in Israel since it launched its operation on Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas’ top military commander. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • An Israeli soldier throws a blood-stained table from an apartment building hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, killing three people in Kiryat Malachi, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip killed three Israelis on Thursday in a rocket attack liable to deepen a bruising Israeli air, naval and artillery offensive against Palestinian rocket squads. The casualties were the first in Israel since it launched its operation on Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas’ top military commander. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • An Israeli soldier throws a blood-stained table from an apartment building hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, where three people were killed in Kiryat Malachi, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip killed three Israelis on Thursday in a rocket attack liable to deepen a bruising Israeli air, naval and artillery offensive against Palestinian rocket squads. The casualties were the first in Israel since it launched its operation on Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas’ top military commander. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • A rocket launched by Palestinians militants towards Israel makes its way from the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel,Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Palestinians walk by a damaged building hit in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Israeli aircraft, tanks and naval gunboats pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and rocket salvoes thudded into southern Israel, as residents on both sides of the frontier holed up at home in anticipation of heavy fighting on the second day of Israel's offensive against Islamic militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • A Palestinian youth walks through a damaged apartment hit in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City ,Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Israeli aircraft, tanks and naval gunboats pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and rocket salvoes thudded into southern Israel, as residents on both sides of the frontier holed up at home in anticipation of heavy fighting on the second day of Israel's offensive against Islamic militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • Palestinians inspect a damaged apartment hit in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Israeli aircraft, tanks and naval gunboats pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and rocket salvoes thudded into southern Israel, as residents on both sides of the frontier holed up at home in anticipation of heavy fighting on the second day of Israel's offensive against Islamic militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)