- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — An explosion ripped through a car in Gaza City on Wednesday, killing one person and wounding four others, officials with the ruling Hamas movement said.

Hamas medical official Adham Abu Salmia said officials were still trying to determine the cause of the blast and the identities of the victims.

But he said unmanned Israeli aircraft had been flying overhead at the time, and radio stations affiliated with both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant groups claimed there had been an Israeli air strike.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment.

Israel has killed dozens of wanted Palestinian militants — and a similar number of bystanders — in air strikes over the years. But Israel has greatly scaled back its operations since a fierce military offensive in early 2009.

Early this month, an Israeli air strike killed a leader of the Army of Islam, a shadowy militant group that is inspired by al Qaeda.

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, while the rival Palestinian Authority governs the West Bank.

Wednesday’s violence came as Israel and the United States were in a standoff over the terms of a Washington-proposed settlement construction moratorium in the West Bank.

The U.S. hopes that by halting Israeli settlement construction, it can bring the West Bank government back to peace talks. Negotiations broke down in late September, just weeks after they were launched, with the expiration of an earlier Israeli settlement slowdown.

The U.S. wants Israel to halt settlement construction for an additional 90 days. In exchange, it has offered key military and diplomatic incentives to Israel.

But Israel is seeking further assurances that it will not be required to extend the freeze any further, and that East Jerusalem — the section of the holy city claimed by the Palestinians — not be subject to building restrictions.

An Israeli official said Wednesday those terms have not been finalized.

U.S. envoy David Hale met with Palestinian officials in the West Bank on Wednesday to discuss the emerging deal.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians would not have any comment until a deal is officially worked out.

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