GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — An Israeli airstrike killed three Gaza militants on Tuesday near an area where an unmanned Israeli surveillance aircraft crashed earlier in the day, an official in the Palestinian territory said. The Israeli military said it was responding to mortar fire.
The Israeli military said the Skylark drone experienced a technical malfunction and it was investigating what caused it to go down.
Israel uses drones to gather intelligence on militant activity in Gaza, a territory governed by the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas, and where several other armed groups also operate.
Hamas militants said they recovered the aircraft in southern Gaza and handed it over to security forces. No further details were immediately available.
The Israeli army would not say whether the drone's fall into Hamas' hands could provide secrets or technology to the militants. The Skylark, however, is known to have safeguards to prevent disclosure of information to unauthorized personnel.
Shortly after the drone crashed, the Islamic Jihad movement said an Israeli airstrike struck the area, killing three members belonging to the group.
The Israeli military said it was responding to mortar fire that had just taken place toward Israel.
"Terrorists must know that there is a price to pay when participating in aggression," said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman.
Later Tuesday, an explosion ripped through a house in northern Gaza, killing three people and wounding four others, Gaza medical officials said. A security official said the three dead were Hamas militants, and that the blast had been caused while mishandling explosives. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The Israeli military said it was not involved in the incident.