Police at the scene said that the blast appeared to be the work of criminals and not terrorists because the bomb was under the driver's seat and only the driver was killed.

"I can confirm an explosion took place in Rishon Letzion, near a winery in the centre of the town. There are a number of casualties," Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

Cars and buildings as far as 200 metres away from the blast were damaged. Police closed the area and bomb experts were on the site, police said.

The last Palestinian attack inside Israel took place on April 17, when nine people were killed and dozens wounded in a suicide attack in Tel Aviv.

Israel has stepped up security in recent days, in the run up to the Yom Kippur holiday, which falls on October 1.