A spokeswoman for the Israeli army confirmed the attack saying it was aimed at a group that "was responsible for firing rockets against Israel".

The car was obliterated by the blast, and rescue workers extracted a dismembered body. Hamas police officers kept people away from the car.

Thursday's deaths brought the number of people killed in Israeli-Palestinian violence since 2000 to 5,976, the vast majority of them Palestinians, according to a count by the AFP news agency.