Police arrested two men on Friday on suspicion of placing an explosive device under the car of a soccer player in a Tel Aviv suburb in a criminally motivated attack, police said.
One of those arrested is known to police as a member of a gang suspected of involvement with previous car explosions.
“This morning we defused an explosive device that was placed under the car of a soccer player in Ramat Hasharon,” police said in a statement. “Two suspects were arrested and the investigation is ongoing.”
The car belonged to Kobi Musa, who plays for Hapoel Nir Ramat HaSharon Football Club, and was parked outside the team’s stadium, Israel’s Sport 5 news site reported.
The suspects, a 31-year-old man from Rishon Lezion and a 61-year-old man from Ganei Tikva are also suspected of involvement in planting bombs under cars belonging to two other public figures.
Ynet reported that one of the men detained was known crime boss Avner Harari.
It was not immediately clear why the victims were targeted.
In January a bomb exploded under a car belonging to Israeli singer Margalit Tsan’ani, causing no injuries. Tsan’ani was not in the vehicle at the time of the blast. The car was lightly damaged.
In December a bomb was set off on the street in the northern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Tzahala where Meir Shamir, the 65-year-old CEO and chairman of the board of the investment company Mivtach Shamir Holdings, lives with his family. Police said they found a device hooked up to large batteries, which they believe to be the source of the explosion.
That was the second time that month that Shamir, a former Israeli Air Force pilot, is believed to have been targeted in what appears to be an intimidation campaign. Earlier in December, a bomb exploded near Shamir’s car, yielding no injuries.
Israel has seen a rash of underworld bombings and shootings in recent years. Crime organizations have stepped up jockeying in an escalating turf war since several top bosses were arrested in a far-reaching investigation dubbed Case 512.