Israel has charged three Jews with the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager whose death set off days of violent protests in Arab areas of Jerusalem and northern Israel.
The three have appeared before court, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. He said the suspects admitted to abducting 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir and setting him on fire. They also re-enacted the murder, Mr Rosenfeld said.
Abu Khdeir was taken on July 2 near his home in east Jerusalem and his charred body was later found in a forest.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service said the suspects, whose names were not released, were motivated by revenge after the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers.
Police are investigating three others for involvement in the killing. They remain under house arrest.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it downed a drone launched by Gaza militants, the first time it encountered an unmanned aircraft since the start of its offensive last week, as new Israeli airstrikes killed four more Palestinians in the coastal strip.
Israel began its campaign against terrorists in the Hamas-controlled Gaza last Tuesday, saying it was responding to heavy rocket fire from the densely populated territory. The military says it has launched more than 1,300 airstrikes since then, while Palestinian terrorist have launched nearly 1,000 rockets at Israel.
The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza has said that 172 people died in Israeli air attacks, including dozens of civilians. That is without counting Monday’s fatalities.
There have been no Israeli deaths as a result of Hamas rocket launches, though several people have been wounded, including a teenage boy who was seriously injured by rocket shrapnel on Sunday.
The Israeli military said the drone, launched from Gaza on Monday, was shot down in mid-flight by a Patriot surface-to-air missile along the southern Israeli coastline, near the city of Ashdod. In a statement to media, Hamas claimed it launched three drones at Israel on Monday, though the military insisted there was only one.
Hamas said it has developed two types of drones – one for intelligence gathering, and one for delivering munitions. It also said it lost contact with one of the drones and that the targets included the Israeli defence ministry compound in Tel Aviv.
It was the first time the terrorist group publicly acknowledged it has drones in its arsenal.
The use of drones with an offensive capacity could inflict significant casualties – something the rockets from Gaza have failed to do, largely because of the success of the Israeli military’s Iron Dome air defence system in shooting them down.
“Hamas is trying everything it can to produce some kind of achievement and it is crucial that we maintain our high state of readiness,” Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon said. “The shooting down of a drone this morning by our air defence system is an example of their efforts to strike at us in any way possible.”
Meanwhile, Israel continued its aerial attacks on the Gaza Strip, with four Palestinians reported killed in two Israeli airstrikes on the southern city of Khan Younis, according to officials from the city’s European Hospital.
The officials said Saddam Moamar, his wife Hanadai, and his father Mousa were killed by an airstrike that hit their house. Their neighbour, Maher Abu Mor, was killed in another airstrike while standing on the rooftop of his home, the officials said.
It was not immediately clear why their homes were targeted.