Middle East

Israel denies Palestinians shot drone down over Gaza

File image of an Israeli soldier holding up a 'Skylark' unmanned drone as part of a demonstration for Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, centre, on 9 July 2013
Image caption The lost drone was a Skylark mini-drone, of the type being shown here to the Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon (centre)

An Israeli drone has come down in the northern Gaza Strip, with Israel denying Palestinian reports that it was shot down.

The armed wing of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, claimed it had shot down and seized the mini-drone.

But the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the crash was the result of a technical fault and the matter was being investigated.

Israel is among the world's biggest manufacturers of drones.

They are unmanned aerial vehicles which Israel uses to gather intelligence and, sometimes, to carry out attacks.

"IDF clarifies, in contradiction to Palestinian reports, that a 'Skylark' tactical mini UAV system crashed earlier today in the Gaza Strip due to a technical malfunction, and was not shot down by Palestinian militants," an IDF spokesperson told the BBC on Sunday.

"The IDF is looking into the matter."

But Hamas said fighters from its military wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, had downed and seized the drone.

Hamas sources told the BBC that it came down east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Last May, a drone of the same model crashed near Gaza, because of a technical error. Troops recovered the drone after a 12-hour search.