Drone from Gaza crashes in Israel

A Turkish army statement did not say if the downed aircraft was manned or a drone, but an official told AFP in Ankara it was an "unmanned aircraft" (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Jerusalem (AFP) - A drone launched from the Gaza Strip crashed inside Israel on Thursday, the Israeli military said, the third such incursion in just under a year, with previous incidents claimed by Hamas.

"Some kind of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was spotted entering Israeli airspace from the Strip," an army spokeswoman told AFP.

"Fragments of it were later found in Israeli territory... right next to the (border) fence," she said.

She could not immediately say if the UAV was armed or fitted with a surveillance camera.

Hamas's armed wing has previously displayed a drone several metres in length and with the appearance of a small plane, though it was not immediately clear if Thursday's UAV was similar.

Last July Israel shot down a Hamas drone near the southern city of Ashkelon close to the Gaza border and in a separate incident downed another off the Mediterranean port of Ashdod, 28 kilometres (17 miles) north of Gaza and a similar distance south of Tel Aviv.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday's flight.

The Islamic militant group Hamas, the de facto ruler in Gaza, claimed responsibility for the drone incursions on July 14 and 17 last year.

They took place a few days after Israel launched a 50-day war against Hamas in Gaza which killed some 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

The conflict also caused heavy damage to Gaza's infrastructure and damaged more than 160,000 homes.