Israel often conducts air strikes across the border in response to what it says are Palestinian rocket attacks

Three Palestinians said to be members of the Islamic Jihad group have been killed in an Israeli air strike on the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical workers and the Israeli military have said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said a group of fighters preparing to fire a rocket at Israel had been targeted, and that the air strike caused an explosion and a secondary blast.

The spokeswoman added that the "pilots indicated that the targets had been hit".

Bodies recovered

Ambulance workers and medical officials said they recovered three bodies from the site of an explosion that occurred late evening on Monday outside El Bureij refugee camp, near the Israeli-Gaza border.

Palestinian medics said the men, who had just got out of a car near the camp, were members of the Al-Quds Brigade, the military wing of Palestinian group Islamic Jihad.

Israel often carries out strikes against targets in the Hamas-ruled territory.

These strikes generally target tunnels used to smuggle in weapons, or the gunmen who Israel says have fired 150 rockets across the border so far this year.

The latest violence underscored the significance of US-backed Middle East peace talks launched this month, which diplomats were trying to rescue from falling apart over a dispute over Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Source: Agencies