Aljazeera correspondent Hiba Aqilah reported that three of the men were killed while travelling in their black Mercedes-Benz car on Gaza’s coastal road on Saturday, while the fourth was a motorcyclist passing by.

They were en route to Gaza City when the vehicle came under fire from an Israeli tank stationed in the illegal Jewish settlement of Netzarim, according to medics and eyewitnesses.

Palestinian officials said the tank was situated inside the illegal Jewish settlement and launched the attack from there.

Two of the occupants killed in the vehicle attack were members of the Nasir Salah al-Din Brigade identified as Hassan Nafiz Abu Dalal and Muhammad Mahdi Abu Zur, said the Aljazeera correspondent.

Three more people were injured in the blast, one seriously.

Some eyewitnesses initially thought the attack came from Apache helicopters which were also hovering over the area at the time.

"Israeli helicopter gunships have been attacking apartment blocks and vehicles at any time of day or night, in densely populated civilian areas, allegedly targeting certain individuals but wiping out entire families and their homes in the process," eyewitnesses said.

Bodies beyond recognition

The explosion ripped through the car turning it into a pile of smoking wreckage and scattering body parts and metal pieces across the road.

Medics said "the bodies were beyond recognition and badly burned".

Israeli military sources responded by denying that the car was targeted by a helicopter missile strike, tank attack or any other military action.

Media agencies claimed that, "security sources said the blast appeared to have been caused when explosives blew up prematurely". This is a common statement when Palestinians are attacked, said some of the witnesses.